Central Florida hospitals evacuate, lock down ahead of Hurricane Irma

Category 4 storm has Florida in sights

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Several Central Florida hospitals will evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma, which as of Friday morning was a Category 4 storm on a path toward the Sunshine State.

The majority of patients at Health First's Cape Canaveral Hospital will be transferred Friday to other Health First hospitals in the region.

"Safety is our top priority, and we prepare for these types of situations,” hospital spokesman Matthew Gerrell said. "As we continue to monitor Hurricane Irma, Health First is taking all of the necessary safety precautions. With Cape Canaveral Hospital being located on a barrier island, we felt the evacuation was needed to ensure the safety of our patients."

Officials said in a news release that it will assess the hospital for any damage after the storm has passed. Once it is cleared for safety, it will begin accepting new patients.

Evacuations will also be conducted at Florida Hospital Oceanside in Ormond Beach and Florida Hospital New Smyrna. The emergency room at Oceanside will close, but officials have not said when. The entire hospital in New Smyrna, including the emergency room, will close Saturday at noon.

Centra Care locations across all of Florida will be closed Sunday and Monday, Florida Hospital officials said.

Patients will have access to urgent-care services from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. through Florida Hospital's eCare app until the storm passes, a spokesperson for Florida Hospital said. The free app is used only for minor injuries and conditions, according to Florida Hospital officials.

In Volusia County, Halifax Health officials said Sunday that outpatient offices will be closed Sunday until further notice. Halifax Health's emergency departments in Daytona Beach, Port Orange and Deltona will remain open for the duration of the storm, officials said. More information is available at halifaxhealth.org.

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All Orlando Health facilities were put on lock down at 5 p.m. Sunday due to the curfew Orange County officials put in place for Hurricane Irma. The lock down was lifted Monday at 10 a.m. and normal operations will resume Tuesday, officials said.

The lock down means that all entry and exit points will be closed except in emergencies.

Also in Orlando, officials with the Orlando VA Medical Center canceled all appointments scheduled for Tuesday. A spokesperson for the Medical Center said clinics will still be open for walk-in patients.

Veterans in need of emergency assistance can visit the Orlando VAMC’s Urgent Care facility at 13800 Veterans Way in Lake Nona, which is scheduled to remain open 24 hours a day throughout the storm, officials said.

The VA’s Health Resource Center Disaster Hotline can also be reached during the storm at 1-800-507-4571.

A spokesperson from Ocala Health said Saturday that the Summerfield Emergency Room will close Sunday at 10 a.m. and is expected to reopen at 7 p.m. Monday.

The emergency rooms at Ocala Regional Medical Center and West Marion Community Hospital will remain open during the storm, officials said.

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