Tidelands Health hospitals granted waivers to remain open and continue serving the community
**Update: As a result of improving weather forecasts for our region, Gov. Henry McMaster has rescinded the medical evacuation order issued Thursday for Georgetown and Horry counties. The decision was announced shortly after Tidelands Health was notified the state had granted waivers of the order to the health system.**
Original announcement: Tidelands Health hospitals will remain open to serve the community, regardless of Hurricane Irma’s eventual track.
The health system has received waivers from the medical evacuation order announced Thursday by Gov. Henry McMaster. The waivers grant the health system, which operates Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital, Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital and Tidelands Waccamaw Rehabilitation Hospital, authority to offer uninterrupted hospital care.
“We’re thankful for the opportunity to continue caring for our patients and the community,” said Gayle Resetar, chief operating officer for Tidelands Health. “As a critical component of our region’s safety net, it’s important we’re here for people, whatever the weather may bring.”
The health system applied for waivers from the evacuation order because “sheltering in place” is the best option for Tidelands Health patients, many of whom have complex medical needs, and avoids the risks and challenges associated with a medical evacuation, said Dr. William Richmond, a board-certified emergency physician.
“Based on all the information we have available to us, sheltering in place is the best decision for our patients,” Dr. Richmond said. “It is consistent with our mission and the right thing for our community.”
The health system has been aggressively planning for the possibility that Irma could strike the region. Tidelands Health leaders have been coordinating with local emergency management officials and have ordered additional supplies to support operations, among other steps.
Resetar said the health system is taking steps to reduce the number of patients in its hospitals — discharging patients who are medically cleared to return home, canceling elective procedures and closing outpatient locations.
On Monday and Tuesday, the health system will close its physician offices, Tidelands NextStep locations and other outpatient locations. Outpatient procedures, including surgeries and imaging, that were previously scheduled to take place at the health system’s hospitals Monday and Tuesday will also be postponed.
Patients whose appointments are affected by the changes will be proactively contacted by the health system to reschedule. There is no need for patients to call and check on their appointment status. Operational hours at many locations will be extended following the storm to accommodate rescheduled appointments.
Tidelands Health will also maintain essential staffing at its hospital locations. Non-essential personnel, such as business office employees, physical therapists, etc., will not be required to report to work Monday and Tuesday. The health system will provide meals and sleeping quarters for essential employees and physicians who work during the hurricane.
“Our doctors and nurses embrace the profound responsibility we have as a health care provider,” Dr. Richmond said. “Like firefighters and police officers, our community depends on us to be there in times of need.”
In addition to outpatient location closings, two community events scheduled in the coming days have been canceled. Events that have been canceled are:
- The Community Health Day scheduled for today at the Belin United Methodist Church Family Life Center in Murrells Inlet
- Walk With a Doc scheduled for Saturday at the Grand Park Athletic Complex in The Market Common
Local residents are encouraged to follow the Tidelands Health Facebook page and the health system’s website, tidelandshealth.org, for status updates. Information is also available by calling 1-866-TIDELANDS.