Governor Orders Mandatory Evacuations of Georgia Coast (Ending Sept. 5 at 9:30 a.m.); Expands State of Emergency to 21 Counties

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered mandatory evacuations for the following six coastal counties: Glynn, Chatham, Liberty, McIntosh, Bryan, and Camden. These counties are east of I-95 and the evacuation orders start at noon Monday, Sept. 2. On Wednesday, Sept. 4, Gov. Kemp expanded the State of Emergency to include 21 counties.


Southeast Georgia Health System Resumes Services

Southeast Georgia Health System Brunswick and Camden Campus hospitals will resume all inpatient and outpatient services on Friday, September 6. This also includes Southeast Georgia Physician Associates physician practices.

Glynco Immediate Care Center and St. Simons Immediate Care Center resumed normal operating services on Thursday, September 5.

With support from multiple agencies and good Samaritan citizens and family members, the Senior Care Center residents and staff are returning to their respective Centers on Thursday, September 5. 

Dublin VA to Shelter Veteran Evacuees from Hurricane Dorian

The Carl Vinson VA Medical Center will open its evacuation shelter beginning Monday, Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. in the facility’s auditorium. Those Veterans and their family members who are evacuating the Georgia coastline are welcome to stay at the Dublin VAMC. Pets also are welcome; however, we will need their shot records a crate to house them, and food for approximately four days.

The facility activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) this morning to ensure that it was prepared for evacuees. The EOC is staffed continuously during emergencies and will remain open until the last evacuee is placed in suitable lodgings.

Anyone experiencing storm losses as a result of Hurricane Dorian can register with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362). Applicants who are hearing impaired can use TTY 800-462-7585. Online registration is available at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or through a smartphone or tablet at m.fema.gov.


Memorial Health Prepared for Hurricane Dorian in Advance of the Storm

Savannah, Georgia (September 1, 2019) — As Hurricane Dorian continues to gain strength in the Atlantic, Memorial Health is prepared and ready to care for the Savannah community. Staff, physicians and leaders are working through their Emergency Preparedness Plan to ensure safety for their patients and team.

“With help from our HCA Healthcare colleagues, we are prepared to provide care throughout any impact that the Coastal Empire may see this week from Hurricane Dorian,” said CEO Shayne George. “We’ve brought in extra medical supplies, fuel, water, food, linens and equipment to ensure we can meet the care needs of our community and keep our team members and physicians safe.”

As part of the hospital’s regular emergency protocols, we are:

  • Communicating with local and state emergency planning organizations and, via our HCA Healthcare Emergency Operations Team in Nashville, TN, with federal resources as well, to ensure that resources are available and in place well in advance of the storm.
  • Receiving multiple weather briefings a day so that we can quickly adjust to changing storm dynamics.
  • Coordinating with other hospital providers across the community, state and region to support their needs.

We will provide safety tips and updates throughout this weather event via our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/memorialhealth.

“Right now is the time to prepare,” said ER Medical Director Dr. Jay Goldstein. “Make sure that you have plenty of water, food and a week’s supply of prescriptions on hand. Have a plan for evacuation including essential items already packed. Most of all, be safe and know that Memorial Health is here to help if you should need us.”


CMS Offers Comprehensive Support for Georgia and South Carolina With Hurricane Dorian Preparation

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced efforts underway to support Georgia and South Carolina in response to Hurricane Dorian. On September 2, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared public health emergencies (PHEs) in these states. CMS is working to ensure hospitals and other facilities can continue operations and provide access to care despite the effects of Hurricane Dorian. CMS will be waiving certain Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements; creating special enrollment opportunities for individuals to access healthcare quickly; and taking steps to ensure dialysis patients obtain critical life-saving services.

“Our thoughts are with everyone who is in the path of this powerful and dangerous hurricane and CMS is doing everything within its authority to provide assistance and relief to all who are affected,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We will partner and coordinate with state, federal, and local officials to make sure that in the midst of all of the uncertainty a natural disaster can bring, our beneficiaries will not have to worry about access to healthcare and other crucial life-saving and sustaining services they may need.”

Below are key administrative actions CMS will be taking in response to the PHEs declared in Georgia and South Carolina:

Waivers and Flexibilities for Hospitals and other Healthcare Facilities:  CMS will be temporarily waiving or modifying certain Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP requirements. CMS will also issue a number of blanket waivers, listed on the website below, and the CMS Regional Office will grant other provider-specific requests for specific types of hospitals and other facilities in Georgia and South Carolina. These waivers work to provide continued access to care for beneficiaries. For more information on the waivers CMS has granted, visit: www.cms.gov/emergency.

Special Enrollment Opportunities for Hurricane Victims:  CMS will make available special enrollment periods for certain Medicare beneficiaries and certain individuals seeking health plans offered through the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. This gives people impacted by the hurricane the opportunity to change their Medicare health and prescription drug plans and gain access to health coverage on the Exchange if eligible for the special enrollment period. For more information, please visit:

Disaster Preparedness Toolkit for State Medicaid Agencies:  CMS developed an inventory of Medicaid and CHIP flexibilities and authorities available to states in the event of a disaster. For more information and to access the toolkit, visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/state-resource-center/disaster-response-toolkit/index.html.

Dialysis Care:  CMS is helping patients obtain access to critical life-saving services. The Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) program has been activated ahead of the storm and is working with the End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Network of Georgia and South Carolina, ESRD NW6, to assess the status of dialysis facilities in the potentially impacted areas related to generators, alternate water supplies, education and materials for patients, and more. They are also assisting patients who have evacuated ahead of the storm to receive dialysis services in the location to which they are evacuating. Patients have been educated to have an emergency supply kit on hand including important personal, medical, and insurance information; contact information for their facility, the ESRD NW hotline number, and contact information of those with whom they may stay or for out-of-state contacts in a water proof bag. They have also been instructed to have on hand supplies to follow a three-day emergency diet. The ESRD NW6 toll-free hotline is 800-524-7139 and the KCER hotline is 866-901-3773. Additional information is available on the KCER website www.kcercoalition.com.

During the 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons, CMS approved special purpose renal dialysis facilities in several states to furnish dialysis on a short-term basis at designated locations to serve ESRD patients under emergency circumstances in which there were limited dialysis resources or access-to-care problems due to the emergency circumstances.

Medical equipment and supplies replacements:CMS will be temporarily suspending certain requirements necessary for Medicare beneficiaries who have lost or realized damage to their durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies as a result of the hurricane. This will help to make sure that beneficiaries can continue to access the needed medical equipment and supplies they rely on each day. Medicare beneficiaries can contact 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for assistance.

Suspension of Enforcement Activities:  CMS will suspend current survey and enforcement activities for healthcare facilities in Georgia and South Carolina, but will continue to investigate allegations of immediate threat to patient health and safety.

Ensuring Access to Care in Medicare Advantage and Part D:  During a public health emergency, Medicare Advantage Organizations and Part D Plan sponsors must take steps to maintain access to covered benefits for beneficiaries in affected areas. These steps include allowing Part A/B and supplemental Part C plan benefits to be furnished at specified non-contracted facilities and waiving, in full, requirements for gatekeeper referrals where applicable.

CMS Central Office and the Regional Offices hosted two Webinars in 2018 regarding Emergency Preparedness (EP) requirements and provider expectations. One was an all provider training on 6/19/2018 (over 3,000 providers participated) and the other an all-surveyor training on 8/14/2018. Both presentations covered the EP Final Rule which included emergency power supply; 1135 waiver process, Best Practices & Lessons Learned from past disasters, and Helpful Resources and more. Both webinars are available at https://surveyortraining.cms.hhs.gov/.

CMS  also compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and useful national emergency preparedness resources to assist State Survey Agencies (SAs), their State, Tribal, Regional, local emergency management partners, and health care providers to develop effective and robust emergency plans and tool kits to assure compliance with the EP rules.  The tools can be located at:

https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertEmergPrep/Emergency-Prep-Rule.html

https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertEmergPrep/Templates-Checklists.html

Survey & Certification Group Emergency Preparedness Regulation dated November 2016, Revised 6-1-2017.

CMS Regional Offices have provided specific Emergency Preparedness information to Medicare providers and suppliers through meetings, dialogue and presentations.  The regional offices also provide regular technical assistance in Emergency Preparedness to State Agencies and staff, who, since November 2017, have been regularly surveying providers and suppliers for compliance with emergency preparedness regulations.  

CMS will continue to work with all geographic areas impacted by Hurricane Dorian. We encourage beneficiaries and providers of healthcare services that have been impacted to seek help by visiting CMS’ emergency webpage (www.cms.gov/emergency).

To find additional hurricane preparedness and response resources for the health sector and the latest regarding HHS activities for Hurricane Dorian, please visit: www.phe.gov/dorian.

For more information about the Department of Health and Human Services’ PHE, please visit:

https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2019/09/02/secretary-azar-public-health-emergencies-georgia-south-carolina-hurricane-dorian.html


GHA Statement on Hurricane Dorian

The Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) is closely monitoring forecasts and working with state and federal agencies to prepare for Hurricane Dorian. Should the hurricane impact our state, Georgia's hospitals stand at the ready and have emergency preparedness plans in place to make sure that all patients who come through their doors are treated with the best care possible, no matter the weather. Our hospitals are also ready to provide support to hospitals from neighboring states dealing with this massive storm.

Nearly one year ago, Hurricane Michael tested Georgia's emergency system. The state's hospitals were up to the challenge then and are ready to face any challenges that Hurricane Dorian may bring. GHA is proud of the many brave men and women in our hospitals working overtime to ensure every patient is treated.


Assistance for People with Medicare and Healthcare Providers Impacted by Hurricane Dorian

In preparation for the anticipated hurricane, KEPRO would like to remind people with Medicare as well as healthcare providers to contact KEPRO toll-free at 888-317-0751 with questions or concerns related to quality of care complaints, hospital discharge and skilled service termination appeals, and Immediate Advocacy. 

If you're a provider or stakeholder in Florida, please ensure that people who have Medicare and their families know that KEPRO has social workers and representatives available to help resolve concerns quickly. For state-specific, hurricane-related information and resources, please visit www.keproqio.com and click the state on the map.

KEPRO will continue working in the states impacted by Hurricane Dorian to help ensure Medicare patients have the medical care they need and providers have the necessary guidance regarding KEPRO's services.

For more information, please visit www.keproqio.com.


HHS Declares Public Health Emergency in Three States

The Department of Health and Human Services has declared public health emergencies in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina as Hurricane Dorian continues to move closer to the Southeast coast. The HHS declaration gives Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services beneficiaries, health care providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs in disasters. CMS this afternoon announced a number of specific actions the agency is taking to help Georgia and South Carolina. Last week, the agency took these actions to support Florida.

'Hurricane Dorian remains an extremely dangerous storm and continues to pose a significant threat to health and safety,' HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. 'With these declarations and waivers, we will help ensure that our fellow Americans who rely on Medicare and Medicaid have continuous access to the care they need during and after this storm.'

Among other actions, HHS and its agencies have staged 200 personnel from the National Disaster Medical System and an Incident Management Team along with approximately 100 tons of medical equipment and supplies for these teams to use; are collaborating with state health authorities to provide data that the health departments can use to assist Medicare beneficiaries who rely on electrically powered medical equipment, such as oxygen concentrators or wheelchairs, and home health services; and have activated the Kidney Community Emergency Response Program to monitor dialysis access and needs of facilities.


Waiver or Modification of Requirements Under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act in Puerto Rico, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina as the Result of Hurrican Dorian

What: HHS Secretary Azar has declared a Public Health Emergency in Puerto Rico, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina

Where: Puerto Rico, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina

Why:  Tropical Weather Advisory indicating development of potentially damaging tropical event

Actions/Follow-Up:   Please view the HHS Press Release at: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2019/09/03/ocr-issues-guidance-to-help-ensure-equal-access-during-hurricane-dorian.html

View the Waiver or Modification of Requirements under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act of Hurricane Dorian at: https://www.phe.gov/emergency/news/healthactions/section1135/Pages/default.aspx

OCR’s guidance on Hurricane Dorian and the limited waiver of HIPAA sanctions and penalties during a declared emergency may be found at:   https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/index.html

A Spanish language version of OCR’s guidance on HIPAA and hurricanes may be found at: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/hurricanes-and-hipaa-spanish-092617.pdf.


CMS Offers Broad Support for Florida with Hurricane Dorian Preparation

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Friday announced efforts underway to support Florida in response to Hurricane Dorian. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency (PHE) in the state. CMS is working to ensure hospitals and other facilities can continue operations and provide access to care despite the effects of Hurricane Dorian. CMS will be waiving certain Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements; creating special enrollment opportunities for individuals to access healthcare quickly; and taking steps to ensure dialysis patients obtain critical life-saving services.

“Our thoughts are with everyone who is in the path of Hurricane Dorian and CMS is doing everything within its authority to provide assistance and relief to all who are affected,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We will partner and coordinate with state, federal, and local officials to make sure that in the midst of all of the uncertainty a natural disaster can bring, our beneficiaries will not have to worry about access to healthcare and other crucial life-saving and sustaining services they may need.”

Below are key administrative actions CMS will be taking in response to the PHE declared in Florida:

Waivers and Flexibilities for Hospitals and other Healthcare Facilities:  CMS will be temporarily waiving or modifying certain Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP requirements. CMS will also issue a number of blanket waivers, listed on the website below, and the CMS Regional Office will grant other provider-specific requests for specific types of hospitals and other facilities in Florida. These waivers work to provide continued access to care for beneficiaries. For more information on the waivers CMS has granted, visit: www.cms.gov/emergency.

Special Enrollment Opportunities for Hurricane Victims:  CMS will make available special enrollment periods for certain Medicare beneficiaries and individuals seeking health plans offered through the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. This gives people impacted by the hurricane the opportunity to change their Medicare health and prescription drug plans and gain access to health coverage on the Exchange if eligible for the special enrollment period. For more information, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Regulations-and-Guidance/Downloads/8-9-natural-disaster-SEP.pdf

https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/Emergency/EPRO/Past-Emergencies/Hurricanes-and-tropical-storms.html

Disaster Preparedness Toolkit for State Medicaid Agencies:  CMS developed an inventory of Medicaid and CHIP flexibilities and authorities available to states in the event of a disaster. For more information and to access the toolkit, visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/state-resource-center/disaster-response-toolkit/index.html.

Dialysis Care:   CMS is helping patients obtain access to critical life-saving services. The Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) program has been activated ahead of the storm and is working with the End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Network of Florida, ESRD NW7, to assess the status of dialysis facilities in the potentially impacted areas related to generators, alternate water supplies, education and materials for patients, and more. They are also assisting patients who have evacuated ahead of the storm to receive dialysis services in the location to which they are evacuating. Patients have been educated to have an emergency supply kit on hand including important personal, medical, and insurance information; contact information for their facility, the ESRD NW hotline number, and contact information of those with whom they may stay or for out-of-state contacts in a water proof bag. They have also been instructed to have on hand supplies to follow a three-day emergency diet. The ESRD NW7 toll-free hotline is 800-826-3773 and the KCER hotline is 866-901-3773. Additional information is available on the KCER website www.kcercoalition.com.

During the 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons, CMS approved special purpose renal dialysis facilities in several states to furnish dialysis on a short-term basis at designated locations to serve ESRD patients under emergency circumstances in which there were limited dialysis resources or access-to-care problems due to the emergency circumstances.

Medical equipment and supplies replacements: CMS will be temporarily suspending certain requirements necessary for Medicare beneficiaries who have lost or realized damage to their durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies as a result of the hurricane. This will help to make sure that beneficiaries can continue to access the needed medical equipment and supplies they rely on each day. Medicare beneficiaries can contact 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for assistance.

Suspension of Enforcement Activities:  CMS will suspend current survey and enforcement activities for healthcare facilities in Florida, but will continue to investigate allegations of immediate threat to patient health and safety.

Ensuring Access to Care in Medicare Advantage and Part D:   During a public health emergency, Medicare Advantage Organizations and Part D Plan sponsors must take steps to maintain access to covered benefits for beneficiaries in affected areas. These steps include allowing Part A/B and supplemental Part C plan benefits to be furnished at specified non-contracted facilities and waiving, in full, requirements for gatekeeper referrals where applicable.

CMS Central Office and the Regional Offices hosted two Webinars in 2018 regarding Emergency Preparedness (EP) requirements and provider expectations. One was an all provider training on 6/19/2018 (over 3,000 providers participated) and the other an all-surveyor training on 8/14/2018. Both presentations covered the EP Final Rule which included emergency power supply; 1135 waiver process, Best Practices & Lessons Learned from past disasters, and Helpful Resources and more. Both webinars are available at https://surveyortraining.cms.hhs.gov/.

CMS  also compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and useful national emergency preparedness resources to assist State Survey Agencies (SAs), their State, Tribal, Regional, local emergency management partners, and health care providers to develop effective and robust emergency plans and tool kits to assure compliance with the EP rules.  The tools can be located at: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertEmergPrep/Emergency-Prep-Rule.html

https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertEmergPrep/Templates-Checklists.html

Survey & Certification Group Emergency Preparedness Regulation dated November 2016, Revised 6-1-2017.

CMS Regional Offices have provided specific Emergency Preparedness information to Medicare providers and suppliers through meetings, dialogue and presentations.  The regional offices also provide regular technical assistance in Emergency Preparedness to State Agencies and staff, who, since November 2017, have been regularly surveying providers and suppliers for compliance with emergency preparedness regulations. 

CMS will continue to work with all geographic areas impacted by Hurricane Dorian. We encourage beneficiaries and providers of healthcare services that have been impacted to seek help by visiting CMS’ emergency webpage ( www.cms.gov/emergency).

To find additional hurricane preparedness and response resources for the health sector and the latest regarding HHS activities for Hurricane Dorian, please visit: www.phe.gov/dorian.

For more information about the Department of Health and Human Services’ PHE, please visit:  https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2019/08/30/secretary-azar-declares-public-health-emergency-florida-hurricane-dorian.html


GHA Produces Hurricane Michael Video

Hurricane Michael hit parts of Georgia in the Fall of 2019. GHA was extremely proud of each and every hospital who rose to the occasion to treat and help as many patients as possible. Click here to view the Hurricane Michael Video.


Out-Of-State Evacuees Information

Georgia State Parks, including campsites and cottages, are open to evacuees. Georgia State Parks will not be turning away any visitors seeking assistance. 
  • All cabins will be allowed to accommodate domestic pets. Pet fees will be waived during this weather event. 
  • Parks that currently have overnight equestrian facilities will allow visitors traveling with horses to use portable corrals and high lines (with tree saver straps).  AH Stephens State Park will utilize the event field as an overflow for their equestrian campground.
  • For information about parks, updates and how to rent facilities please go to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources State Parks & Historic Sites Alerts & Closures page

(Information updated from Georgia Emergency Management Agency)


Georgia Traffic Information

Call 511 or visit www.511ga.org for free real-time travel information on road conditions and closures.

Ready Georgia

Being ready for emergencies is extremely important. Having a plan in place is paramount. For more information on how to be prepared, visit the Ready Georgia website.


State's Health Care Response to Disasters

Georgia’s healthcare response to disasters is based on our Healthcare Coalition model. Fourteen regional healthcare coalitions, led by a Coalition Coordinator and a Coalition Facilitator, work with healthcare and community partners to prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies.  Coalition members consists of Emergency Preparedness coordinators from healthcare and community agencies throughout Georgia.


Georgia Hotel/Motel Availability

Callers with questions concerning hotel/motel availability in Georgia can call: 1-800-VISIT-GA (1-800-847-4842) or visit www.exploregeorgia.org.


Pet Information

Pet friendly sheltering is available at Georgia State Parks, where 'dry camping' will be available free of charge
  • Evacuees are encouraged to contact park offices directly for assistance
  • A map of all Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites Division - Georgia DNR is available here

Dialysis Facility Critical Asset Facility Information

Click here for complete listing.