Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press
HOLLYWOOD, United States — A Canadian nurse now living in Florida is bracing for a busy next few days of caring for the sick and wounded as Hurricane Irma bears down on the U.S. coast.
Nancy Teske Wissler will be barricading herself in her Hollywood, Fla., home as the storm passes, before heading to work to care for patients who have been transferred from other hospitals, as well as anyone wounded in the storm.
Teske Wissler, who is originally from Buckingham, Que., did not heed Florida Governor Rick Scott’s repeated calls to leave the state ahead of one of the most powerful hurricanes to be formed in Atlantic.
“I don’t have a choice,” Teske Wissler said. “I have to be at the hospital after the storm passes.”
While she hopes nobody will be hurt during the hurricane, she says the team at the Mount Sinai Medical Centre in Miami Beach, where she works, will be ready.
She said the hospital was still quiet on Friday, but that some patients had been transferred from the Florida Keys and other evacuation zones. Other patients were flown as far away as Alabama.
Staff have been sorted into two teams — one that will work during the hurricane and one that will come in after.
The hospital will be closed during the storm, but patients who are already there will remain under the care of “Team A,” explained Teske Wissler, a nurse supervisor responsible for co-ordinating and assigning staff after the hurricane.
“A lot of the nurses and the staff that are in evacuation areas are Team A,” she said. “They’ll go to the hospital because they have no place to go.”
Teske Wissler, whose home is just outside the evacuation zone, is on “Team B.”
They’re the ones that will take over after the hurricane passes over the state, once the first team leaves to assess the damage to their homes.
“Everyone is pretty nervous,” she said.
Teske Wissler says medical emergencies are well co-ordinated in the sector and the hospital has a detailed plan for handling disaster situations with dozens of wounded.
The Jackson Health System in Miami-Dade County was placed in a state of emergency as of 7 a.m. Saturday.
The storm is expected to reach Florida on Sunday, with wind and rain moving in on Saturday.