Major hospitals in the Tampa and St. Petersburg area are preparing for a significant storm surge from Hurricane Idalia.
Tampa General Hospital – located in the Davis Islands neighborhood in a surge-prone area of the city — has gone as far as to construct a water-impermeable barrier around parts of its campus.
The more than 1,000-bed hospital is expected to be finished assembling the AquaFence barrier — which can withstand up to a 15-foot storm surge — around its vulnerable areas by the end of the day Tuesday, hospital spokesperson Karen Barrera told CNN in an email.
Tampa General will remain open for emergency care and is equipped with a central energy plant that is located 33 feet above sea level and can withstand the impact and flooding of a Category 5 hurricane, housing both electricity generators and boilers for hot water, Barrera said.
Barrera added the hospital has activated its incident command center to keep operating, and as a Level 1 trauma center, Tampa General “stands ready to meet the needs to patients throughout the state who require care after the storm has passed.”
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, a pediatric hospital in St. Petersburg, said it isn’t currently moving any patients, having built a new building in 2010 to withstand hurricane-force winds.
Most of the hospital’s mechanical areas are on its fourth floor to protect from flooding, and the hospital is capable of having its own potable water and can power itself without being connected to the power grid, if needed, spokesperson Danielle Caci said in an email.
“We are a 259-bed hospital and the largest freestanding pediatric hospital in the area so (we) are prepared to take in patients in need of medical care,” Caci said.
BayCare, a hospital system that owns 16 acute-care hospitals in the Tampa Bay area, also said it didn’t anticipate any “operational changes” other than closing some ambulatory services.
“We have ‘hardened’ our facilities to be as prepared as possible for hurricane season,” said BayCare spokesperson Lisa Razler in an email to CNN, adding the hospitals aren’t moving patients at this time “and we don’t expect that to change.”