Active 2017 Storm Season Puts Nicklaus Children's Emergency Preparedness to the TestNicklaus Children’s Health System’s emergency preparedness skills were thoroughly tested in 2017 when two major hurricanes walloped the region.
Hurricane Irma, which appeared poised to strike Miami as a catastrophic category 5 storm, eventually made landfall on the Florida west coast on September 10. As the storm bore down on the southern tip of Florida, the hospital activated its disaster incident command team to manage care of children and families requiring hospitalization during the storm, including critically ill and respirator-dependent children. Nicklaus care and support teams left their homes and families amid very uncertain circumstances to fulfill their commitment to serving the region’s children, even in the most trying of times.
In Irma’s wake, Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean as a category 5 storm. Again Nicklaus care and support teams rose to meet the challenge. With hospitals in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands unable to effectively manage all patients, 25 children from those regions were transferred to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Stories abound of hospital staff going above and beyond to ensure the well-being of those uprooted by the storm. Of note, a group of employees from the hospital’s Global Health team collected clothing, shoes and personal items for nurses of a Puerto Rican children’s hospital who had lost their homes.
Helping others was on the minds of staff throughout the health system. A disaster relief effort was mounted, offering support through employee monetary donations as well as contributions of supplies, including medicine, bottled water, and household and baby care items to assist storm-ravaged Puerto Rico. A total of three separate shipments of materials were distributed to the island territory.
“Without a doubt, the 2017 hurricane season provided the backdrop for one of the most inspiring examples of our staff’s selfless service,” said Alex Soto, Chairman of the 2017 hospital board. “Virtually every hospital department played an essential role, from clinical teams to dietary, environmental services, plant operations, guest services, social work, child life, internal/external communications, outpatient center teams and more. I could not be more proud.”