Bayonet Point’s hurricane evacuation showcases strong teamwork and patient care

Police car with lights flashing parked outside hospital

When Hurricane Hermine hit southern Florida on Aug. 31, 2016, the physicians and staff at Bayonet Point Regional Medical Center, just north of Tampa, Fla., did what they always do: provide outstanding patient care, even in the most challenging of circumstances.

Although the facility was ready for any hurricane-related incidents and had an evacuation plan in place thanks to well-rehearsed safety and security protocols, it wasn’t storm waters that forced a patient relocation. Rather, lightning began a roof fire, which in turn knocked out the facility’s power and required a full evacuation.

Every U.S. hospital is required by the Joint Commission to have an evacuation policy, and from 1971 to 1999, 275 hospitals have been evacuated — 29 in Florida. At Bayonet Point, the evacuation was triggered when the lightning damaged the pathway of not only the regular electrical connections, but also those of the backup generators. Of the 225 patients evacuated, 40 were in intensive care units, and required special attention including the use of portable ventilators. More than 150 patients were transferred to 13 other hospitals, nursing homes and treatment facilities, and 59 were discharged. All this had to be done with no power while using flashlights and cellphones.

Hospital staff worked with local first responders, emergency management officials and other community partners to make the evacuation happen quickly and safely, says Kate Patterson, area practice manager for the Pasco-Hernando Markets for HCA Healthcare’s Physician Services Group.

“Bayonet Point Trauma, a team of four trauma surgeons and five mid-level assistants, worked nonstop make sure all of the patients were cared for, especially the critical care patients,” she says. “They were in and out of ambulances assisting with the transport of these patients. They made sure each patient was stable and properly transported to appropriate facilities in the area. They did not bat an eye as to what time it was, or when they last ate.”

Hospital CEO Shayne George adds that the entire Bayonet Point staff leaped into action with no notice at all, showcasing just how strong its preparation and experience are during disasters.

“The event resulted in a complete electrical utility loss and forced full facility evacuation,” George says. “Through unified command between hospital and emergency services leadership, it resulted in a controlled disaster. We have the deepest appreciation for our staff, first responders, HCA Healthcare and the other community and government resources that sup-ported the successful total evacuation of more than 200 patients without incident within a six-hour timeframe.”

Not only was Bayonet Point evacuated safely, it also was able to recover from the damage and reopen within five days at 100 percent capacity, George adds.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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