Local hospital staff in full hurricane preparation mode, ready before Irma arrives

TGH: Confident about care
Posted at 9:02 PM, Sep 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-07 02:57:48-04

Tony Venezia is the Director of Security and Emergency Management at Tampa General Hospital. He said the staff has worked for years to make sure the facility is safe.

"Tampa General has gone to great lengths to protect our patients," said Venezia.

Right now more than 800 men, women and children are in need of doctors care.

"It is very hard to move the patients they are very sick," said Venezia.

TGH is the only level one trauma center in the region. That means the most critical come here. A top priority is to keep them and their families safe and to do that staff had to secure the facility. But, the hospital is located in the heart of Davis Islands...a major flood zone.

"Rising water is the biggest vulnerability," said Venezia.

Venezia gave us a tour of the security operations center. He said staff and engineers realized changes needed to be made after witnessing Katrina.

New Orleans level one trauma center was built much like TGH with generators on the bottom floor. That's no longer the case at TGH.

"Over the last several years we did work on raising our generators up and our power plant up so that we could withstand rising water," said Venezia. "And they are designed to rising water and get fuel to generators and have constant power to the patients."

That's just one of the major changes. The emergency room was also rebuilt 25 feet above ground. Every pane of glass is also protected.

"We put hurricane shutters and those can withstand up to a cat four storm," said Venezia.

There's also massive tanks with enough fuel for 96 hours and behind protected walls the power supply to keep the hospital running.

"We feel pretty good at where we are at," said Venezia.

And that's also because of extensive training. The entire staff taking part in monthly drills.

Just today, all of the work, coming into play. Staff mobilized the command center, or ground zero for the hospital.

"It's all hands on deck," said Venezia.

And, that includes the 1,500 plus doctors and staff to take care of those that need it the most.