LEE COUNTY, Fla. — On the one year mark of Hurricane Ian, Fox 4 told you how Southwest Florida hospitals are using their experiences after the storm to become more resilient.
Now, Fox 4's Briana Brownlee is following through on the state funding Lee Health has received to address those issues — specifically access to running water.
Lee Health hospitals had electricity during and after the storm, but the water kept going out.
“In the hospital world you don’t think a lot about water pressure until you have to run a suppression system in a seven or eight story building," said Michael Nachef, Vice President of Lee Health's Government Relations.
For Nikijha Lynch Excobar, water pressure was the last thing on her mind, with her four-month-old son in the hospital.
"And there's no water... Huh?" Lynch Excobar said. "It's a hospital."
She and her son were eventually evacuated because of the issue.
Nachef says Lee Health will never forget that situation, which is why $4.3 million from the state will be used to dig ground water water wells for multiple hospitals in their network, including Golisano Children's Hospital.
“It’s just critical that our emergency departments stay open before, during and after in any event you need a hospital to be there for you,” Nachef said.
He told Fox 4 with the ground water well, Lee Health will be able to access a secure, sustainable source of water that will continue to run without depending on external water.
“Think of it like a generator," Nachef explained. "It’s a redundant power system, so if the hospitals are required by law to have generators, even though this isn’t a requirement, we just want to make sure nothing impedes our ability to deliver care to those who need it.”
The $4.3 million from the state will cover most of the cost to dig these water wells. Lee Health says work has already begun, and this funding will allow crews to finish as soon as possible in case of another natural disaster.