TAMPA — Located in a Level A evacuation zone on Davis Islands, the current track of Hurricane Irma could hardly be any worse for Tampa General Hospital, the region's only Level 1 trauma center.
Some 650 patients are still in the hospital. An emergency "Team A" group of doctors, nurses and staff began a five-day shift Saturday and will remain in the hospital throughout the storm to care for patients and provide emergency-room treatment to victims of the storm, said Ellen Fiss, the hospital's public relations manager.
At the end of that period, a relief team will take over.
About 60 children of essential staff are also staying at the hospital throughout the storm but the hospital stressed it cannot serve as a general shelter.
Altogether, there are 2,200 people riding out the storm at the hospital.
Conscious of its vulnerability to storm surge, the hospital has made numerous improvements over the past years. That includes hurricane shutters on windows and "submarine-type" locking doors that are designed to keep generators dry and working even in the event of flooding of lower levels.
Still, Fiss said that the first floor of the hospital is at risk of flooding. In-patients are all housed on higher levels, she said.
"We have made every measure to keep patients safe," she said.