So far so good: Albany, GA hospital weathers Irma’s first knocks


So far so good: Albany, GA hospital weathers Irma’s first knocks

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Less than two miles away from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Southwest Georgia, the Albany and Dougherty County joint emergency operating center prepared for Hurricane Irma’s approach. Curtis Compton/

If the hospital in Albany is a canary in the coal mine for Atlanta’s health centers, the news from there is good — so far.

As of lunchtime Monday, as Irma swept into Georgia with tropical-storm-force winds and rain, the hospital in Albany, Phoebe Putney Memorial, was right in its path. Officials there said there was little damage so far.

But there was a lot of impact from preparations. Four hundred staffers from janitors to doctors came in the night before, so the center would be staffed if travel became difficult. They camped out on empty hospital beds, air mattresses, and cots, set up in offices, the gym and wherever space could be found.

“They have great attitudes, we’ve handed out prizes, had trivia games,” said Ben Roberts, a spokesman for Phoebe Putney Health System. “People treated it kind of like slumber parties.”

One office tower, which was not in much use, had to switch to generator power, but the two hospital campuses and other tower remained on regular electricity, said Roberts.

The hospital canceled elective surgery, but had performed some necessary operations and was expecting a couple of births from Florida evacuees.

The worst of the weather was yet to come, however, and was expected in the Albany area throughout Monday aftenoon.

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