By Allen Weiss, M.D.

Hurricane Irma brought out our best as the NCH team exceeded expectations. Before, during, and after the storm we shared the following communications with our colleagues that show the “inside story” of how we think and execute. We also had Naples Daily News (NDN) Reporter Liz Freeman embedded with us as both NCH and the NDN believe keeping those we serve well informed helps everyone.


Pre Irma: We understand that these can be difficult and anxious times as we are balancing caring for our families at the same time that we are at work caring for patients. Our community relies on NCH caring for the sick and injured through good and bad times as we have done for sixty-two years since our doors opened.

 We need to pace ourselves as this storm is over two days away.  Caring for our patients who are with us during and after the storm is critical for all. You can be assured that our emergency response teams are fully mobilized and are taking the necessary steps to secure our facilities and arrange for additional supplies.

 Please reach out to your leaders and managers who are present to assist and support you so you can do your job—caring for patients. We are all fully engaged and readily available to assist in any way possible.

 Please watch for updates by email, on our website, and the hurricane telephone line (239) 624 2051. Please also keep in your thoughts those who have already been impacted by Hurricane Irma. 

 Be careful and stay safe,


Starting Irma: We have now activated the Incident Command Center for the NCH Healthcare System which also initiates the HR Severe Weather Policy. We have diligently prepared and plans are in place as we face a very significant challenge. Please stay safe and continue to follow all communications. We are just starting and have a few difficult days in front of us. 

NCH has cared for our community for over sixty years. These next few days will again test our abilities, perseverance, and endurance.

Thanks for caring and keeping everyone safe,


Post Irma: NCH never closes due to the dedication, passion, perseverance, and competence of our team comprised of 4,300 colleagues, 800 Medical Staff, and 1,200 volunteers. Hurricane Irma tested our resolve as the eye of the storm passed over both hospitals. Our folks came through yet again caring for about 380 in-patients ranging from Neonates to Rehab and everyone in-between at both hospitals and four Emergency Departments. We were prepared, if needed, to do major surgery, treat heart attacks, manage strokes, deliver babies and all our other care-giving functions as a teaching healthcare system. 

 We also sheltered over 1,200 family members with safe lodging and served 9,000 meals. Additionally, we converted one of our facilities into a pet shelter for 81 cats and dogs manned by NCH employees and volunteers.    

 Typical spontaneous comments from folks of “This is what we do and what would you expect?” makes me realize healthcare folks are truly selfless with the noble purpose of helping others. We witness countless acts of kindness, compassion, and concern showing NCH is not only a healing culture but also a humanitarian one. 

 As we faced Hurricane Irma, the important observation that stresses like Irma bring out the best and the worst in people was witnessed by all. These past few days showed NCH at our best. I could not be prouder to be a member of the NCH team. 

 Sincere thanks for the life-saving mission you all are committed to everyday.

Allen Weiss is an AHA board member and president and CEO of NCH Healthcare System in Naples, Fla. Reprinted here with the author’s permission is his Sept. 14 “Straight Talk” column, a weekly commentary.

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