By Andy Miller, Georgia Health News
Hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Georgia are receiving patients evacuating from the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence approaches the Southeastern coast, state officials said Tuesday.
Georgia appears likely to escape the brunt of the Category 4 storm as it spins toward landfall. But state health care officials are preparing for an influx of evacuees from states hard hit by the storm.
“We may have to open shelters’’ to house people fleeing Florence, Dr. Patrick O’Neal, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, said Tuesday at an agency board meeting.
HCA hospitals in South Carolina have sent patients to the Tennessee-based company’s hospitals in Georgia, including those in Savannah, Waycross and Dublin, said Adrianne Feinberg, director of emergency preparedness for the Georgia Hospital Association.
Memorial Health in Savannah, recently acquired by HCA, said it has received six patients from Grand Strand Health in Myrtle Beach, S.C., an HCA facility.
“We will do everything possible to support those in South Carolina and the mid-Atlantic to weather Hurricane Florence safely and with the health care they need,” said Dr. Jay Goldstein, medical director of emergency services for Memorial.
Hospitals in Augusta are also receiving some Florence evacuees, Feinberg added.
Although Florence seems likely to miss the Georgia coast, “we’re still affected because our neighboring states need our help,’’ she said. “The Southeast region works together.’’
Florence has potential to cause “massive damage” to parts of the Southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States — and not just in the coastal areas where the storm aims to make landfall Friday morning, CNN reported.