Lee Health evacuates patients to NCH because of lack of running water

Lee Health announced on Thursday that evacuations of all its facilities to NCH Healthcare System would begin.

Hurricane Ian first made landfall in Florida here on Wednesday.

Dr. Larry Antonucci, the president and CEO of Lee Health, said in a video that the health care system’s facilities did not sustain major damage, the Associated Press reported.

Lack of running water and power was a significant issue for providing essential functions for healthcare, though.

Lee Health was in contact with state and local emergency operations to sort out evacuations for patients to other hospitals outside of Lee County.

The health care system was relying on generators at some facilities.

Three of their four hospitals were without running water, according to Antonucci.

He said, “We cannot run a health system and a hospital without running water. It’s critical to what we do.”

Antonucci said running water was important “Not only from the perspective of patient care but also for fire protection.”

NCH Healthcare system said it’s prepared to take in 407 patients from Lee Health via life-flight or EMS services. It has mobilized its staff to be all hands on deck to handle patient care and are seeing if Lee Health doctors and Nurses can come in to help.

NCH said it’s hospitals have very little damage and have put cots in non-clinical areas to accommodate more people.

NCH has canceled elective procedures through Monday and is asking people not to come to their campuses to fill prescriptions. The hospitals are closed to visitors. Immediate care center and outpatient centers are closed.