While Gulf Coast hospitals escaped the full fury of Hurricane Georges, several Universal Health Services facilities in Puerto Rico weren't as lucky.
The King of Prussia, Pa.-based hospital company, which operates 35 hospitals in 21 states and Puerto Rico, expects to take a pre-tax charge of $7.5 million in the third quarter for property damage and business loss linked to the hurricane.
UHS has property insurance and business interruption insurance, but executives don't know when or how much the company will be reimbursed for the damage.
UHS' Chief Executive Officer Alan Miller said the third-quarter charge will have no effect on the company's future business plans.
UHS' three hospitals in Puerto Rico reported significant damage. UHS had purchased the facilities in February for an undisclosed price. Two of the hospitals operated on backup electrical and water supplies for more than a week but have almost returned to normal operations. The company's 180-bed San Pablo del Este hospital in Fajardo sustained the most significant damage and is expected to be closed for the next few weeks, Miller said. Patients were moved to 160-bed Hospital San Francisco and 376-bed Hospital San Pablo, UHS' other two Puerto Rico facilities.
The hurricane, packing 130 mph winds, hit Puerto Rico at about 3 p.m. local time Sept. 21 and lingered about 24 hours. After leaving a trail of destruction in the Caribbean, the storm, with winds of about 100 mph, slammed the Louisiana-Mississippi Gulf Coast Sept. 27 and drenched the Southeast the rest of the week.
For the most part, hospitals lining the coast were prepared for the storm and suffered little, if any, damage.
Barbara Foley, director of government affairs for the Florida Hospital Association, said several hospitals in the state evacuated patients before the hurricane's full impact. Some hospitals had flooding problems, but state-mandated disaster plans were followed, and no major crises were reported.
Fred Young, president of 163-bed Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital in New Orleans, said hospitals in that area were lucky the storm didn't hit head-on, since the city sits about 6 feet below sea level. The hospital implemented its disaster plan Sept. 26, calling in personnel who were required to stay at the facility until Sept. 29 in case severe flooding kept workers from getting to the hospital.
In Pascagoula, Miss., part of 297-bed Singing River Hospital's roof blew off early Sept. 28. Obstetrics patients near the damaged area were moved to another part of the hospital. No one was hurt, said hospital spokesman Richard Lucas, but the facility suffered $3 million in damage.
But next door, the entire roof on Plaza Nursing Center was lost, Lucas said. Hospital staff, with the help of the National Guard, helped transport 110 nursing home residents to temporary quarters at Singing River's warehouse before they were moved to sister facilities nearby. No one was hurt, Lucas said.