Florida ERs swamped in Wilma's wake

October 31, 2005 01:16
2 minute read.

Six days after Hurricane Wilma, more than 1 million people are still without power and many doctors offices have been closed for a week. That leaves hospitals - now the only source of medical care in some communities - swamped with routine medical problems. To ease the crunch, the Federal Emergency Management Agency set up disaster medical assistance teams at four hospitals to help people with minor injuries, prescription medicine or those trying to follow up on routine medical care. The services are free. People dependent on oxygen or those needing regular dialysis were forced to go to the hospital when their power was out, said Kerting Baldwin, a spokeswoman for the Memorial Healthcare System, which includes five hospitals in Broward County, Florida. Almost a week after the storm, some dialysis centers have yet to reopen. Florida Power & Light, the state's largest electric utility, said some areas might not get their power back until November 22, two days before Thanksgiving. But in a sign of progress, 2.2 million customers that lost power after the hurricane were back online Sunday, the company said. By Sunday afternoon, Florida state officials said about 2,000 people remained in emergency shelters, most in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Public schools in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties remained closed.

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