News Release: North Carolina’s hospitals and health systems stand ready and prepared to care

Cary, NC – September 13, 2018 – As Hurricane Florence nears landfall, North Carolina’s hospitals are activating emergency command centers, stocking supplies and preparing to house staff and patients through the storm. Preparedness is a top priority for hospitals and health systems, on whom their communities rely to be prepared for any emergency, no matter how large or small.

“Our member hospitals and health systems in the projected path of the storm are working closely with their local emergency management agencies and the state to ensure care is available to all who need it during and after the storm,” said Steve Lawler, president of the North Carolina Healthcare Association. “We learned through Hurricanes Floyd and Matthew that some of the most devastating impact comes after the storm. Our association and its members across the state are standing by to help their peers wherever needed.”

Hospitals are anticipating additional traffic to emergency departments and the potential for admissions of injured and medically fragile individuals and have taken steps in recent days to transfer inpatients to other facilities and discharge those patients who are able to return home safely. Earlier this week, New Hanover Regional Medical Center transferred infants from its neonatal intensive care unit to WakeMed in Raleigh and other inpatients were transferred to FirstHealth in Pinehurst. Martin General Hospital in Williamston evacuated inpatients this week but is continuing to operate maternity services and its emergency department. Many hospitals are closing clinics and outpatient facilities beginning on Thursday, so patients are encouraged to call ahead before traveling.

Hospitals also are preparing for potential disruptions in water supplies due to flooding after the storm. After Hurricane Matthew, prolonged water outages were common.

“Experience is the best teacher,” said Lawler. “North Carolina’s hospitals have invested millions of dollars in equipment, infrastructure, personnel and supplies to be as ready as possible for disasters. Our communities count on their hospitals and we are prepared to care.”

Aside from their own preparations, here are some of the other ways hospitals are supporting their communities:

UNC HealthCare will provide free online health care consultations from 12 a.m. Friday to 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

WakeMed in Raleigh is hosting an emergency blood drive on its main campus Thursday from 10 am. to 3 p.m.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, in conjunction with N.C. Emergency Management and the Triad State Medical Assistance Team, opened a 100-bed medical support shelter at Providence Place in High Point.

Cone Health, working with Guilford County EMS and the Triad Healthcare Network, has been doing home visits to check on high risk heart patients.

Be sure to follow @nchospitals on Twitter. We will be sharing messages from throughout the state and tagging them with #FlorenceNC.

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NCHA is a trade association representing more than 130 hospitals and health systems providing acute care, rehabilitative, behavioral, psychiatric and veterans’ services. The association promotes improved delivery of quality and affordable health care in North Carolina through leadership, advocacy, information, and education in its members’ interest and for public benefit.

For information, contact:
Julie Henry,  NCHA
929-460-8984 (mobile)
jhenry@ncha.org

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