Governor Declares State of Emergency

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has issued an emergency declaration for 108 counties in advance of Hurricane Michael. Click here to read the official release from the Governor.

GHA Statement

“Our hospitals stand ready to assist, whether by caring for potentially evacuated patients or providing much-needed resources.'


Standing Ready for Hurricane Michael

By GHA President Earl Rogers (published October 9)
Hurricane Michael, the second major hurricane in a month, is predicted to hit with extreme force. Our hospitals stand ready to assist, whether by caring for potentially evacuated patients or providing much-needed resources. 

Preparing involves careful collaboration and communication with state and federal agencies. That is why we constantly strategize to make sure that when an event like a hurricane arises, the necessary steps are in place to make sure all hospitals have what they need and that, ultimately, each patient is treated with the best possible care.

I sincerely hope and pray for all of those who may be affected by Hurricane Michael. But, if the storm causes havoc, we take comfort in knowing GHA and Georgia will be there to lend a helping hand.


Phoebe Health Hurricane Statement

Statement from Joe Austin, Phoebe Chief Operating Officer

“The Phoebe leadership team has been meeting regularly over the last 24 hours and will continue to do so as Hurricane Michael moves through our area. We have asked all staff members who are essential to the delivery of patient care  to report to the hospital by noon today to avoid potentially dangerous weather conditions. We are prepared to meet the needs of our community during and after Hurricane Michael.  Additionally, to minimize travel in our area, visitation has been limited to 1 caregiver per patient.”

SGMC Prepares for Hurricane Michael

South Georgia Medical Center announced on Tuesday the activation of its Emergency Operations Plan in anticipation of Hurricane Michael. The plan includes disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. SGMC will be receiving patients during and after the storm. Preparedness activities ensure continuity of care for both patients, providers and support staff.

SGMC has received additional shipments of fuel for its generators, food, medicines and supplies that will be needed for the first 96-hours after the storm’s onset. 

SGMC requests that its Main Emergency Room be used only for serious emergencies. Inpatient care will continue at all SGMC facilities including the Langdale Hospice House. Many business occupancies and clinics, such as  Health Care South, Diabetes Management Center, SGMC Family Medicine, SGMC Urology and Youth Care will be closed on Wednesday. The SGMC Berrien and Lanier Campuses will be open. 
 
To help manage any minor injuries that may occur as a result of the storm, SGMC’s Urgent Care (at the Outpatient Plaza at 4280 North Valdosta Road) will be open normal hours 9am – 8pm.

All elective surgeries scheduled at the main campus and Outpatient Plaza, Wednesday, Oct. 10, will be rescheduled. Additionally, outpatient radiology and lab services will be closed.

SGMC will be in close contact with the Lowndes Emergency Operations Center and will open its own Incident Command Center to monitor and direct activities early Wednesday.  

Important Note: Hospitals are not shelter sites. Individuals seeking shelter are directed to refer to their county’s emergency management agency shelter locations for directions and information.

In the News

Published October 10 in Georgia Health News

Michael Poses Serious Danger, Sparking Mobilization in Georgia

For the second time in a month, Georgia health officials are preparing to assist people affected by a major hurricane.

But Hurricane Michael, which was pounding the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, threatens to inflict broader damage in Georgia than did Hurricane Florence, which hit mainly the Carolinas a month ago.

Gov. Nathan Deal and other senior officials, including Dr. Patrick O’Neal, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, spoke at a news conference at noon Wednesday about preparations for Michael.

Click here to read more.


Published October 10 in Albany Herald

State Delegation Asks President to Expedite Hurricane Michael Emergency Aid

U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., along with the entire Georgia congressional delegation, wrote this week to President Donald Trump to request expedited emergency resources to aid counties in Georgia expected to be impacted by Hurricane Michael. Click here to read more.

CMS Takes Steps to Help With Hurricane Emergency Response

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Wednesday, October 10 announced steps taken by the agency to support Florida in response to Hurricane Michael. Yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency (PHE) in Florida. With the PHE in effect, CMS has taken several actions to provide immediate relief to those impacted by the hurricane. The actions will include temporarily waiving or modifying certain Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements; creating special enrollment opportunities for individuals to access healthcare immediately; and taking steps to ensure dialysis patients obtain critical life-saving services.

“Reports have said that Hurricane Michael is an extremely dangerous storm and we urge those in the path to take steps to be safe,” Administrator Seema Verma said. “CMS has taken the measures necessary to help support everyone that could be impacted. The waivers that will be in effect in Florida will give healthcare providers, facilities, and suppliers the flexibility to provide continued access to care throughout this storm. We will continue to monitor the hurricane and work closely with officials in Florida.”

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

  • Waivers for Hospitals, Healthcare Facilities, and Clinicians: CMS will be temporarily waiving or modifying certain Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP requirements. CMS will be issuing a number of waivers as necessary, which will be listed on the website below, and the CMS Regional Offices will be granting 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 will grant, visit: www.cms.gov/emergency.

  • Special Enrollment Opportunities for Individuals Impacted by the Hurricane:  CMS has made special enrollment periods available for certain individuals seeking health plans offered through the Federal Health Insurance Exchange and all Medicare beneficiaries. This gives people impacted by the hurricane the opportunity to gain access to health coverage on the Exchange or change their Medicare health and prescription drug plans immediately if eligible for the special enrollment period. For more information on these special enrollment periods, 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 and is working with Quality Insights Renal Network 7, ESRD NW 7, 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 toll-free hotlines for each NW are:  NW 7 – 1-800-826-3773, NW 8 – 1-877-936-9260, and NW 6 – 1-800-524-7139; and the KCER hotline is 866-901-3773. Additional information is available on the NW’s websites at https://www.hsag.com/en/esrd-networks/esrd-network-7/, http://esrdnetwork8.org/emergency-preparedness/patients, and https://network6.esrd.ipro.org/home/provider/patient-services/emergency-updates/ or the KCER website www.kcercoalition.com.  

  • Medical equipment and supplies replacements: CMS will temporarily suspend certain requirements necessary for Medicare beneficiaries who have lost or sustained 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 the affected areas of 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 PHE, 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 will continue to work with all geographic areas impacted by Hurricane Michael. 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 read previous updates regarding HHS activities related to hurricane response and recovery, visit www.phe.gov/emergency

Assistance for Medicare Beneficiaries

Medicare providers and beneficiaries who have questions or concerns related to KEPRO’s services, as they may be impacted by the hurricane, can reach KEPRO toll-free at 844-455-8708. KEPRO has social workers and representatives on staff to help resolve concerns quickly through Immediate Advocacy and Patient Navigation services. For state-specific, hurricane-related information and resources, please visit www.keproqio.com and click your state on the map.

GHHS Vendor Partner Qualivis is Available to Assist with Staffing Needs

Hurricane Michael is projected to make landfall soon, and we want to help you prepare. Rapid response agencies are ready to deploy and mobilize teams to help you and your team through the hurricane while maintaining the highest quality of patient care.

When a natural disaster strikes, demand can quickly overwhelm your team pre and post storm. The Qualivis network offers easy access to a nationwide network of staffing agencies and rapid response agencies to simplify and speed the search process, so that you can focus on providing patient care. Rapid response travel nurse staffing is unique to the travel nurse industry, providing facilities with nurses immediately and offering flexible assignment lengths. Our rapid response agencies can provide nurses available to help for as long — or as little — as you need them.

Our team is dedicated to you 24/7, for more information contact your hospital association. Let us know how we can help!

Current Qualivis hospitals contact: jberger@qualivis.com  

If you are not a Qualivis hospital we can still help. Contact: mgarrett@gha.org

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 https://gastateparks.org/alerts.

(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 at https://gastateparks.org/Map