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As Ian targets Tampa Bay, hospitals, nursing homes evacuate patients

Elective surgeries and medical appointments were canceled and nursing homes evacuated as the area braces for the worst.
A helicopter leaves HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital Monday afternoon as part of an evacuation effort that relocated about 40 patients prior to the arrival of Hurricane Ian. The hospital is located in a mandatory evacuation zone.
A helicopter leaves HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital Monday afternoon as part of an evacuation effort that relocated about 40 patients prior to the arrival of Hurricane Ian. The hospital is located in a mandatory evacuation zone. [ HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital ]
Published Sep. 26|Updated Sep. 27

This story has been updated with the latest information on hospital closings.

Several Tampa Bay area hospitals were evacuated while others across the region on Monday canceled noncritical surgeries and appointments ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Ian.

Nursing homes also prepared, with those at highest risk of storm surge evacuating residents.

A fleet of five helicopters flew multiple trips ferrying about 40 patients from HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital on Monday afternoon, including people on stretchers. The hospital on S Pasadena Avenue close to intracoastal waters near St. Pete Beach is within Pinellas County’s mandatory evacuation zone. It was last evacuated during Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Related: Monday live updates: Hurricane Ian headed toward Tampa Bay, evacuations ordered

Hospital leaders made the decision after monitoring storm tracks and projections over the weekend and taking into account the likelihood of flooding and severe winds, said Brent Burish, hospital chief executive. Most were taken to HCA Florida Trinity Hospital in Pasco County, he said.

HCA also suspended services and moved patients from hospitals in South Tampa and West Tampa and from its Central Tampa emergency facility. It has established a reunification hotline for family members to locate loved ones at 1-844-482-4821.

“We wanted our patients’ families to know where their loved ones would be prior to the storm,” Burish said.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital announced Monday it is suspending elective surgeries and closing outpatient centers from Tuesday through at least Friday. Patients arriving for critical procedures will be limited to one parent or visitor beginning at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Tampa General Hospital canceled noncritical surgeries scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday and is closing urgent care centers, ambulatory surgery centers and other clinics, according to its website.

Related: How to protect your home before a hurricane

“TGH will remain open to provide care during the storm. We are taking significant precautions to ensure the continued safety of our patients and team members,” a hospital statement read. “Our number one priority remains the safety of our patients and team members.”

The hospital was forced to evacuate patients during Hurricane Elena in 1985. Since then, it has made expensive investments in storm-proofing hospital operations. Its electrical, air conditioning and other critical systems were relocated to floors 25 feet above ground. The hospital is also equipped with “submarine doors,” 6-inch thick metal barriers doors with inflatable bladders that create water-tight seals below.

BayCare announced Tuesday it began evacuating Morton Plant North Bay Hospital in New Port Richey the night before as it’s in a mandatory evacuation zone. The emergency department at the hospital is now closed.

The nonprofit, which runs 15 hospitals in the Tampa Bay Region, plans to continue elective surgeries scheduled Tuesday that do not require an overnight stay. Surgeries scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday are canceled. A decision about resuming procedures on Friday will be made later this week. Rehab and wound care services will also be suspended after today.

Patients with appointments with BayCare Medical Group on Wednesday and Thursday will be contacted to reschedule. Other BayCare services, including urgent care, outpatient imaging, ambulatory surgery centers, laboratory patient collection center, healthhubs and behavioral health for outpatients will close at the end of business Tuesday.

BayCare Anywhere, BayCare’s telehealth service, will be available throughout the storm.

AdventhHealth North Pinellas hospital in Tarpon Springs was evacuated today, hospital officials announced. Patients and clinical staff will be transported to sister hospitals throughout the Tampa Bay area and patient’s families will be notified of their new location.

The hospital is located in a mandatory Evacuation Zone in Pinellas County. All elective procedures, including surgeries, imaging, rehab, endoscopies, and other procedures have been canceled. Patients will be notified once services resume.

The hospital chain is also suspending elective surgeries in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties on Wednesday and Thursday. Patients can check AHMGTampabay.com and the AdventHealth Medical Group Facebook page for further updates.

The hospital chain is closing its Medical Group clinics and Care Pavilions in Hillbsorough, Pasco, Pinellas and Marion counties on Wednesday and Thursday.

Moffitt Cancer Center has canceled all in-person appointments for Wednesday and Thursday, officials said. Moffitt staffers will contact patients to reschedule appointments. Telehealth appointments will continue throughout the storm.

Patients are encouraged to monitor Moffitt.org/hurricane, the patient portal, the patient hotline at 813-745-3500 and Moffitt’s social media platforms for the latest.

A resident is helped on to a waiting bus at St. Petersburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center which is evacuating residents to their sister facility in Lakeland in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Ian, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022 in St. Petersburg.
A resident is helped on to a waiting bus at St. Petersburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center which is evacuating residents to their sister facility in Lakeland in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Ian, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022 in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]

Some Tampa Bay nursing homes in FEMA flood hazard zones on Monday were preparing to evacuate residents. Some, like St. Petersburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, evacuated residents Monday afternoon. Older adults with more high-risk medical conditions were taken to hospitals while other residents were sent to sister facilities inland.

Other long-term care homes in high-risk areas plan to evacuate Tuesday.

All Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities had working backup generators as of the date of their last inspection, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration’s Generator Status Report.

Eight of these facilities are not in full compliance with generator requirements, however, including four in the Tampa Bay area.

”We’re not worried about having power,” said Maria Beznes, administrator of St. Petersburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which is in compliance. “We’re worried about flooding.”

• • •

2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

IT'S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.

RISING THREAT: Tampa Bay will flood. Here's how to get ready.

DOUBLE-CHECK: Checklists for building all kinds of hurricane kits

PHONE IT IN: Use your smartphone to protect your data, documents and photos.

SELF-CARE: Protect your mental health during a hurricane.

• • •

Rising Threat: A special report on flood risk and climate change

PART 1: The Tampa Bay Times partnered with the National Hurricane Center for a revealing look at future storms.

PART 2: Even weak hurricanes can cause huge storm surges. Experts say people don't understand the risk.

PART 3: Tampa Bay has huge flood risk. What should we do about it?

INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk.

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