In collaboration with the Gulf County Emergency Management (GCEM) and Gulf County Emergency Medical Services (GCEMS), Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf (SHHG) developed a comprehensive hurricane evacuation plan to protect the safety of patients and provide emergency care before, during and following severe weather.

Sacred Heart’s hurricane plan is designed to prepare for the potential impact of a hurricane landfall within its service area. One part of the plan is to ensure that physicians and associates essential to staff the hospital are available before, during and after a hurricane. When hurricanes threaten our area, the hospital evaluates staffing, orders extra supplies of food, water and medications and tests backup generators to be ready for the worst-case scenario.

To further ensure readiness, the hospital’s incident command center team which is led by senior leadership, physicians and other key personnel, participate in tabletop exercises designed to practice scenarios of real-world events that calls for emergency response actions including a hurricane threat.

"Our tabletop exercises are performed in partnership with Gulf County Emergency Management and Gulf County Emergency Medical Services,” said Scott McCormick, Facilities and Emergency Preparedness Manager for Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf. “Combining their expertise and know-how with ours provides the best possible result of a successful outcome in an emergency event whether it be a hurricane, active shooter or mass casualty event.”

“Our number one concern is always that our patients and associates are kept safe," said Roger Hall, President of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf. “For a hurricane or any real-world emergency our incident command team is ready to initiate safety measures to ensure the best possible outcome,” Hall said.

In certain hurricane threat conditions, the hospital will evacuate patients to more secure healthcare facilities away from the storm’s path. Those conditions include:

• When Gulf County Emergency Management has issued a mandatory evacuation for one or more evacuation zones in Gulf County, or an evacuation is deemed necessary for the safety of our patients and associates by the Hospital’s President/CEO.

• The hurricane must be at a category 2 or stronger and/or a projected storm surge of at least 6 – 8 feet. A category 2 hurricane has winds from 96 to 110 mph.

If hospital patients were to be evacuated, the plan calls for the hospital’s Emergency Department to remain open if it is logistically possible. The Emergency Department Incident Command staff will work directly with Gulf County Emergency Management during the storm and will re-open to the public as soon as possible after the storm passes.

SHHG remains in close contact with GCEM on the status of damaging storm threats and any evacuation measures. Please note that SHHG does not serve as a public shelter during an emergency or disaster, such as a hurricane. Please visit the Gulf County Emergency Management web site at www.gulfcounty-fl.gov/EmergencyManagement.cfm or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GulfCountyEmergencyManagement for information as well as a list of public shelters that will be activated.