Patients at Myrtle Beach-area hospitals within evacuation zones were moved all across the Southeast ahead of Hurricane Florence.
The Grand Strand Medical Center completed its evacuation efforts at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, according to a news release, while a small number of patients remain in Tidelands Waccamaw and Georgetown hospitals, according to spokesman Carl Lindquist.
Grand Strand transported more than 300 patients to more than 32 facilities in South Carolina and other southeastern states, and they’re now operating a 24/7 family reunification phone line at 844-582-2350 for those hoping to locate loved ones.
Tidelands is operating a similar phone line — 1-866-TIDELANDS — for the approximately 100 patients who were evacuated via ambulance, helicopter and ambulance bus.
Lindquist said hospital staff informed loved ones about patient locations, and any patients who still need to be evacuated will be transported as weather conditions permit.
He couldn’t specify how many patients remain — “this is a fluid situation,” he said — but a few dozen staff members, including clinicians, management personnel and security officers, are remaining at the facilities to provide assistance and expedite the reopening of each hospital.
Linquist said Georgetown Memorial Hospital can withstand wind speeds and storm surge from a Category 2 hurricane, while Waccamaw Community Hospital can withstand a Category 3, according to an in-depth assessment completed in coordination with the South Carolina Hospital Association and state emergency agencies.
Grand Strand Health and all of its emergency rooms are closed until further notice, and the release states that a small team of essential personnel would reopen the ER as quickly as possible once the peak of the storm passes.
“We know that the Myrtle Beach community relies on the Level 1 trauma services and critical heart, injury and pediatric services that are only provided at Grand Strand Medical Center,” Dr. Antonio Pepe, Grand Strand’s trauma medical director, said in the release.
Conway Medical Center and McLeod Health Seacoast are not in evacuation zones, and their emergency departments planned to be open throughout the storm.
David Weissman: @WeissmanMBO; 770-377-5326