Columbia-area hospitals have taken in evacuated patients from the South Carolina coast and are stocking up on emergency supplies as Hurricane Florence approaches the Palmetto State.
Palmetto Health Richland hospital is prepared to run up to 10 days on generator power if necessary, said Jay Hamm, the hospital’s chief operating officer.
The hospital has a six-day cache of extra food and medical supplies on hand in case supplies are unable to be delivered during and after Florence’s impact, and 130,000 gallons of water and 20 tons of ice are ready to mobilize to the hospital within hours if needed, Hamm said.
Richland already has received 13 patients evacuated from coastal S.C. hospitals as of Wednesday afternoon and expected at least six more, Hamm said.
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The entire Palmetto Health system, which includes four hospitals in Columbia and Sumter, has plans to increase staffing — including providing childcare and room for employees to sleep on site in case transportation becomes an issue — in anticipation of a possible surge in patients, said Dr. Steve Shelton, Palmetto Health’s medical director for emergency preparedness.
Many elective procedures — that is, surgeries and procedures that are not life-saving or immediately time-sensitive — that are scheduled for late this week likely will be rescheduled, Shelton said.
“Our goal is to continue doing what we do, which is take care of the folks of South Carolina,” Shelton said.
The hospitals are preparing to possibly assist with coastal hospitals’ and evacuees’ needs for the foreseeable future, depending on Florence’s eventual impact.
“Depending on what happens, after the storm will probably be the busiest time, as people get out and about,” Hamm said. “With this storm, anything’s possible, so we’re trying to be flexible and adapt to the changing situation.”