Thursday, June 8, 2006
7 News Features: Hurricane Hospital
After wilma and katrina, everyone feels uneasy about riding out a storm. But it's especially scary to think about being in a hospital during a hurricane. That's why one facility is making sure all patients and staff are safe. Here's 7's Craig Stevens with the area's first hurricane hospital
WSVN--Last year we watched as Hurricane Katrina created a crisis in the gulf.
But not only were most of the communities unprepared, hospitals were forced to airlift patients to other medical centers.
Meanwhile, here in South Florida our hospitals have also seen damage and destruction from past hurricanes.
Something they want to avoid in the future.
Bo Boulender: "Hurricanes are a fact of life in South Florida and we know we wanted to build a structure that will withstand anything Mother Nature throws at us."
What they're building is the new Homestead hospital.
It will not be ready for this hurricane season, but when it opens in november, it will be the first hospital ever in South Florida built to withstand a category five hurricane.
Nelson Rogue: "We're very confident in the event of a major hurricane, with alot of water we will be high and dry, and Dade County has given us an exception to having to evacuate with a hurricane coming."
The building is technically in an evacuation zone but workers brought in more fill so it now sits nine-and-a-half feet above sea level.
Plus if a hurricane is coming, the hospital's windows have been tested against 221 mile per hour wind and rain without cracking.
The walls are made of concrete panels that are enforced with steel.
Nelson Rogue: "The walls will not come down."
And even if power is lost during a storm the hospital expects to be up and running.
Nelson Rogue: "We have two backup generators with enough fuel to keep us sustained for 7 days."
Doctors offices are also connected to the hospital, so after the storm has passed, patients can still get needed care without having to wait for hours.
CEO: "Our doctors are going to be able to get back online, and patients are going to be able to see them, instead of having to crowd the emergency room."
Ultimately making this hospital not just a safe haven but one of the safest places in South Florida for years to come.
CEO: "That would be an interesting view to know your safely behind these windows."
The new Homestead hospital is scheduled to open in mid-November.
Right now they have not decided what will be done with the old building.