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Some of the nation's largest investor-owned hospitals are working to gather supplies and prepare for Hurricane Dorian, which is rapidly approaching the Florida coast as a potentially devastating Category 4 storm.
Hospitals, which have backup generators, play a crucial role during hurricanes, providing emergency medical assistance and shelter.
About 20% of hospital operator Tenet Healthcare's acute-care beds are in the path of the storm, according to a research note Thursday from Evercore ISI analyst Michael Newshel, who covers managed care and health-care facilities. That's followed by HCA Healthcare, the largest investor-owned hospital operator in the U.S., with about 12% of its beds in the storm's path. More than 3% of Universal Health Services' beds are in its path.
Universal Health Services said it is closely monitoring the storm and working to ensure appropriate preparations are made, including stocking up on food, water, linens, diesel fuel, medications and staffing. The company plans to post updates through its website and social media pages.
"If evacuation orders are called in the areas in which we have facilities, we will comply with those orders. We will ensure the safety of our patients and staff by temporarily relocating them to other appropriate facilities in safe areas," UHS spokesperson Jane Crawford said in a statement.
A spokesperson for HCA said the company is providing support to its hospitals that may be in the path of the storm.
"Our preparedness activities include ensuring our hospitals have enough staff, medications, supplies, food, water and a generator power to continue to operate and care for our patients during and after the storm," HCA spokesperson Harlow Sumerford said.
Tenet Healthcare was not immediately available for comment.
Hurricanes can be costly to hospital networks. Damage from hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas, Florida and Louisiana in 2017, for example, cost HCA an estimated $140 million before insurance claims, according to the company's quarterly earnings reports.
Shares of HCA and Universal Health Services rose Thursday, each up more than 1% in early afternoon trading. Tenet Healthcare was up nearly 3%.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Thursday that Dorian was expected to hit the U.S. mainland late Sunday or early Monday, somewhere between the Florida Keys and southern Georgia. The storm is projected to pack 130 mph winds. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency throughout the state on Thursday afternoon.