Tidelands Health hospitals have started to evacuate patients in preparation for Hurricane Florence.

Carl Lindquist, with Tidelands Health, says in a press release that Tidelands Health will “immediately begin taking steps to evacuate patients at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital, Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital, and Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Hospital.”

Governor Henry McMaster on Monday announced a medical evacuation order for health care provides in several coastal counties, which took effect at 1 p.m. on Monday, according to Lindquist. Impacted hospitals have 72 hours to complete the evacuation. The evacuation will be completed in coordination with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control and the SC Hospital  Association. 

According to the Lindquist, it is unknown where patients will be transported to and that decision will be made by state officials based on the capacity of hospitals outside of the impacted area. 

“In the event it would prove more dangerous to evacuate a patient than to shelter in place, Tidelands Health staff would remain at the hospitals to provide care for those patients before, during and after the storm. That determination will be made on a case-by-case basis by the patient’s physician,” the press release states. 

Effective immediately, Tidelands Waccamaw and Tidelands Georgetown are closed to new admissions, says the release. Emergency departments at both hospitals are open, but will close to the public about three hours before tropical storm force winds begin to impact the area. The release states this closure is anticipated to occur around 5 p.m. on Wednesday.