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With damage extensive at Marathon hospital, tent, trailer medical center goes up next to it

Thomas Morrison is medical director for Fishermen’s Community Hospital. Here he shows part of the temporary hospital.
Thomas Morrison is medical director for Fishermen’s Community Hospital. Here he shows part of the temporary hospital. Keynoter

As one mobile Middle Keys hospital packed up Tuesday, another opened behind Fishermen’s Community Hospital in Marathon.

The federally funded New England-based Disaster Medical Assistance team was set up behind City Hall in Marathon two days after landfall of Category 4 Hurricane Irma on Sept. 10. Medical teams there were reportedly seeing about 50 to 60 patients a day, mostly for prescription refills and tetanus shots.

As the tents were taken down and the teams prepared to leave City Hall, Fishermen’s set up a temporary hospital on its oceanside property near mile marker 48.5 with help from state medical assistance teams from North Carolina.

The Middle Keys hospital’s main building, recently bought by Baptist Health South Florida, remains closed after major damage to the building’s roof during the storm.

“We have no idea how long it will be this way,” Fishermen’s Chief Executive Rick Freeburg said of the temporary setup. “We’ve done a lot of testing, engineers have been in and consultants have been in and we don’t really know the results yet of what our status is.”

“We had a lot of leaks, but this can stay here as long as the community needs it,” Freeburg said of the temporary hospital.

Fishermen’s Medical Director Thomas Morrison said services available at the pop-up hospital include X-ray imaging and care for heart attacks and strokes. It is fully staffed with Emergency Room physicians, nurse practitioners, and radiology and lab technicians.

The ability to do CT scans will happen in about a week, according to Imaging Department Manager Larry Wise. Some of the equipment in the hospital belongs to Baptist, while the rest belongs to the North Carolina State Medical Assistance Team.

There are six beds available for patients who may need to stay overnight and a fully functioning mobile lab. Patients with more serious conditions will be taken to Mariners Hospital in Tavernier, also a Baptist hospital, or Miami-area hospitals.

Care for patients in Marathon who were evacuated to other hospitals prior to the storm has been taken over by the hospitals they were evacuated to, Morrison said.

Mariners Hospital opened for walk-in patients on Sept. 12 and was fully up and running Sept. 15, Morrison said. Lower Keys Medical Center on Stock Island opened its ER Sept. 10 and was fully opened Sept. 18.

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219

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