Hospitals Ready to Help as Hurricane Ike Search, Rescue Continues

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Hurricane Ike may have pummeled Texas, leveling buildings and trees, but residents are holding up amazing well, say hospitals

"We've had no serious injuries and some injuries weren't even hurricane-related," John Kolen, a spokesman for the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, told Saturday night.

"Some had cuts or broken bones, but no major trauma," he said.

About 23,000 or 40 percent of Galveston's 58,000 residents ignored a mandatory evacuation order and remained on the island.

As emergency responders continue their search and rescue efforts, the death toll from Ike has climbed to 25 in nine states.

The biggest concern in the coming days for Galveston residents who chose to stay or choose to return is how they will fare in the coming days and weeks with no electricity, no cell phone service and no running water.

In Houston, Gale Smith, spokeswoman for The Methodist Hospital System, said the hospital saw a steady flow of patients come through its doors overnight but she wouldn’t necessarily attribute the traffic to Hurricane Ike.

“Most of the people coming into the ER had chronic illnesses that needed treating, there were no major injuries," she said. "Our weekends are normally busy and we took in some transfers from other hospitals so it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.”

The Methodist hospital, Houston's largest, did not lose power during the storm unlike many other hospitals and saw only minimal leaking throughout the building.

“Overall we were very fortunate," Smith said. “We are counting our blessings. You always prepare for the worst and hope for the best. All the training over the years has paid off.”

UT Galveston, which was damaged by wind and rain, sustained some broken windows, roof damage and flooding. It is being powered by generators and is unable to admit patients at this time, Kolen said.

"We're only receiving patients for emergency treatment and then transferring them to other hospitals," he said.

UT Galveston evacuated all of patients ahead of the storm, but maintained a staff of 500 so that it could provide emergency treatment as needed.

Kolen said the medical campus weathered the storm well.

"All of the damage is relatively minor, considering the type of storm it was," he added.

Other buildings in the city did not fare as well.

Ten buildings burned to the ground and seven collapsed because of wind, the Houston Chronicle reported on its Web site. Two of the seven that collapsed were apartment buildings. Officials didn't know if anyone was inside.

Amazingly, the city had reported no casualties as of Saturday afternoon, according to the Chronicle. By mid-afternoon rescuers had searched 42 buildings and rescued 27 people who were taken to a city high school, which was being used as a shelter.

Click here to read more from the Houston Chronicle.

In Austin, Texas, about three hours northwest of Houston, hospitals reported seeing twice as many patients as expected Saturday, the reported.

"We have over 200 now, but there could be a second wave," Mark Hazelwood, an official with the Seton Family of Hospitals, told the Web site.

Over in Lake Charles, La., Christus St. Patrick Hospital saw heavy flooding Saturday and has been quite busy, said Karen Stubblefield, the hospital’s public information officer Sunday morning.

Stubblefield said a handful of search and rescue victims came in throughout the night, some of whom needed surgery and the hospital is beginning to see patients who need dialysis treatment.
"We're trying to ramp up that service right now," she said.

In Louisiana, Ike's storm surge inundated thousands of homes. In Plaquemines Parish, near New Orleans, a sheriff's spokesman said levees were overtopped and floodwaters were higher than either hurricane Katrina or Rita.

VIDEO: Click here to watch a video on evacuation necessities.

VIDEO: Click here to watch Dr. Manny Alvarez discuss how hospitals prepare for a storm.'s Marrecca Fiore and Jessica Doyle contributed to this report.