As of midday Thursday, health care facilities along the Georgia coast were preparing to receive their patients who were returning from evacuations triggered by Hurricane Dorian.
The storm did not hit Georgia as hard as was feared last week, but it brushed the state’s coast, knocking out power to thousands, before heading north to pound the South Carolina coast.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp lifted the mandatory evacuation order Thursday morning for anyone east of I-95 in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties.
The state Department of Public Health said it was assisting with the re-entry process for people who were evacuated from health care facilities.
Several nursing homes planned to receive evacuated residents back again as early as Thursday afternoon, pending approval by local emergency officials that conditions are safe, said the Georgia Health Care Association, a nursing home industry group.
Coastal Georgia hospitals “sheltered in place’’ to care for existing patients and those with new illnesses or injuries, said the Georgia Hospital Association. There were no immediate reports of power outages or use of back-up generators at hospitals, said Ethan James, a GHA executive.
Vulnerable hospital patients who were transferred inland, including neonatal intensive care babies, will return according to doctors’ orders and discharge planning, James said. Those babies had been transferred to Augusta University Medical Center and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Piedmont Columbus hospitals.
GHA added that Georgia’s hospitals would also be coordinating as necessary to receive patients from Florida, South Carolina and elsewhere. Florida escaped serious damage from Dorian, but Charleston and other places on the South Carolina coast were dealing with floods from the storm on Thursday.
Georgia’s coastal hospitals stayed open throughout the storm.
Southeast Georgia Health System, on its Facebook page, said its Brunswick and Camden hospitals would resume all inpatient and outpatient services Friday.
The health system said that with support from multiple agencies and Good Samaritan citizens and family members, the Senior Care Center residents and staff are returning to those facilities Thursday.
And in Savannah, St. Joseph’s/Candler reported on its Facebook page some happy maternity news. The system said it had six “hurricane babies’’ born during the storm and evacuation.
Dorian gave a glancing blow to Georgia, toppling trees and knocking out power to more than 15,000 customers in the coastal region, including 1,300 on Tybee Island, the easternmost point in the state.
While they were still assessing the damage and waiting to see what would happen during high tide Thursday afternoon, local authorities said it could have been a lot worse, the AJC reported. “We just dodged a bullet,” said Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher.
Jason Buelterman, mayor of the city of Tybee Island, said Thursday morning that he was still worried about the National Weather Service forecast for 2 p.m. Thursday, which included an 11.2 foot tide.