Lee Health prepares its campuses as hurricane season gets underway

Hurricane season is underway, and what is the best way to prepare for the strong winds and heavy rain associated with violent storms?

North Fort Myers resident Edward McCarthy remembers the devastation Hurricane Irma caused all too well.

“It’s nerve wracking,” McCarthy said. “I live in North Fort Myers, and I really took a beating.”

The storm that hit Southwest Florida in September 2017 is reminding many to get ready for the 2018 hurricane season.

“That’s always a concern, getting ready, getting prepared. access to supplies, access to materials, things like that,” said Sebring resident Jason Clark.

Lee Health system said they’re more prepared now than ever after learning lessons from Hurricane Irma.

“It was the size of the response that we were not actually prepared for,” said chief primary care officer Lisa Sgarlata.

ITS hospitals took in 11,000 people: patients, staff, community physicians, and special needs patients.

They’re gearing up for an even larger response this year if needed.

“Prepare by all year by looking at what food we may need, how many people we may need to serve, any type of evacuation plan that we may need will actually be already drilled,” Sgarlata said.

It also includes generators, equipment and medicine. Each hospital has a room that turns into an emergency operations center — and they can communicate with all hospitals within the health system.

“You’re in the safest place you can be during a hurricane and you’re gonna get the care you need no matter what happens,”  Sgarlata said.

Lee Health switched to an online registration system where special needs patients can sign up for shelter during a tropical storm or hurricane at no cost.

Reporter:Taylor Bisacky
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