The hospital used its ‘AquaFence’ to protect the main campus, even as Tampa suffered some flooding. The hospital resumed normal operations and said it’s ready to aid those in hard-hit areas.
Hurricane Idalia delivered a heavy blow to Florida’s Big Bend region, and the powerful storm produced flooding in Tampa Bay and surrounding communities.
Tampa General Hospital, a medical center with more than 1,000 beds and the region’s only Level 1 trauma center, sits on Davis Island, an area that can see substantial flooding.
Ahead of the storm, Tampa General Hospital set up its “AquaFence,” a temporary barrier of fencing surrounding the main campus. Tampa General said the fences are designed to withstand storm surges of up to 15 feet above sea level.
And the fences were up to the task.
Tampa General said the AquaFence prevented flooding on the hospital’s main campus. The hospital never lost power, and resumed normal operations Thursday.
John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital, said in a statement that the organization has worked to withstand the storms that can batter the Sunshine State.
“The state depends on Tampa General to deliver world-class care, and we are committed to deliver on that expectation while keeping our patients, physicians and team members safe from harm," Couris said in a statement. "That's why we have strengthened our infrastructure to withstand severe weather, prepared and practiced emergency management, and brought in additional supplies to support our teams and patients through severe weather conditions.”
He added, “Because of these efforts, patients at Tampa General are safe, and we are preparing to care for Floridians in the hardest hit communities."
Tampa General never lost power during the storm. If the main campus loses power, it shifts to power generated by Tampa General’s Central Energy Plant, which sits 33 feet above sea level and is designed to withstand the impact of a Category 5 hurricane.
Idalia struck Florida as a Category 3 hurricane, with winds of up to 125 miles per hour, the Associated Press reported. Idalia landed in the Big Bend, a less populated region of the state.
Due to the threats of flooding and power losses, ten of the state’s hospitals had to evacuate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday. The hospitals suffered minimal damage, he said.
By Thursday afternoon, nine of the 10 hospitals had reopened, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. As of 4 p.m. Thursday, 23 assisted living facilities and 15 nursing homes remained evacuated. After healthcare facilities evacuate, AHCA staff must inspect the properties to ensure they can reopen safely.
Ahead of the storm, HCA Healthcare shut down HCA Florida West Tampa Hospital, HCA Florida Trinity West Hospital, and HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital. By Thursday afternoon, only Trinity West Hospital remained closed. HCA has also temporarily closed other sites of care, but nearly all had reopened by Thursday.
BayCare Health System closed urgent care and ambulatory surgical centers around the Tampa area Wednesday, but nearly all had reopened Thursday.
While Idalia produced plenty of damage, it didn’t match the carnage caused by Hurricane Ian last year, which struck the more highly populated Fort Myers area, as the AP reported. Hurricane Ian claimed 149 lives and led to heavy damage, including to some healthcare facilities.