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Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center CEO reflects on Hurricane Michael lessons

Brad Griffin, CEO of Panama City’s Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, reflects on the challenges met and lessons learned before, during and after Hurricane Michael.

  • Prep Work: “During the two days before the storm hit, we made the decision to evacuate and transfer our neo-natal unit to our sister HCA facilities in Gainesville and Orlando. We also used the time to go over our contingency plans should we have flooding, installed hurricane shutters and secured our equipment on the roof.”
  • Challenge: “On Wednesday, we woke up knowing we were going to have a massive, direct hit from the storm. One of the biggest challenges we faced that day was people showing up at the hospital looking for shelter. We didn’t turn anyone away, but when the storm hit, we had over 600 people in the hospital, including patients, our staff and physicians and their families and 28 dogs and cats.”
  • Impact: “During the hour and a half when the storm was most intense, we really felt like we were going to have catastrophic wind damage to the third floor, where we had most of our patients. So we moved all patients off that floor in about 30 minutes. It was very well executed due to the training and planning by our staff.”
  • Emergency: “Our emergency room was saved by staff holding the doors together to keep the wind out, and, as a result, it was largely intact after the storm passed. We actually delivered three babies during the hurricane.”
  • Lessons: “What we learned was the way you communicate, the frequency and content of your communication before, during and after the storm is so very important. Also, it’s absolutely critical you make your decisions based on the most accurate information possible because you will hear all kinds of rumors and misinformation after the storm.”

Read more in Florida Trend's August issue.

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