Sept. 13, 2017 — As Hurricane Irma made its way north through Florida Sunday, Sept. 10 and into Monday, more than 1,500 health care team members from UF Health hospitals and the UF colleges of medicine in Gainesville and Jacksonville responded with precision, composure and determination to ensure patients received needed care and emergency rooms remained open.
“Hurricane Irma tested of our abilities to continue providing health care during a critical situation,” said Michael L. Good, MD, dean of the UF College of Medicine. “Everyone came together as a most impressive team and rose to Irma’s many challenges. We are extremely proud of our faculty, residents, nurses, health care professionals and support staff who took time away from their families to care for our patients and their families through the duration of this storm.”
The UF College of Medicine in Gainesville and the UF Health Shands hospital system activated emergency response plans Friday, Sept. 8, and opened the emergency operations command center at 11 a.m. Sunday. Anticipating unsafe travel conditions during the storm, two full shifts of faculty, residents and staff were brought into the hospital at 3 p.m. Sunday. With over 800 inpatients receiving care in the hospitals, the administration arranged for sleeping quarters in classrooms, conference rooms and offices for over 1,000 faculty and staff who needed to stay in the hospital overnight.
UF Health Shands Hospital and its two freestanding emergency centers remained operational throughout the storm and experienced heavy patient traffic. UF Health Shands Rehab Hospital and UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital also remained operational during and after the storm.
The UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville, UF Health Jacksonville and UF Health North opened a joint emergency operations center Saturday, Sept. 9. Two shifts of care teams, including physicians, nurses, other providers and support staff, were identified before the storm hit. During the storm, approximately 600 staff members cared for 500 inpatients at UF Health Jacksonville and more than 70 at UF Health North. The trauma and emergency rooms were in full operation and many more patients came into the ER. Staff were cared for with sleeping quarters and meals.
“We are thankful the storm’s impact on our area, though considerable, was somewhat less than originally anticipated,” Good said. “With so many people throughout our state suffering significant loss, including historic flooding in Jacksonville, we remain committed to our mission and are ready to provide necessary support and assistance as Florida faces a long recovery.”