The total solar eclipse could be a busy day for Midlands hospitals

The total solar eclipse could be a busy day for Midlands hospitals

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Preparations are continuing across the Midlands where a total solar eclipse is expected to take place on Aug. 21.

Hospitals in the Midlands say they're taking extra precautions with hundreds of thousands of people expected to visit Columbia with one goal in mind: to view the eclipse.

With a flood of tourists from across the globe expected right here in Columbia emergency crews, especially hospitals, say they are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

They expect cell service to be down, they expect to have trouble communicating with employees and with an influx of people with a very busy emergency room.

"We're nearly doubling our population, there's going to be a lot of folks out there interacting with each other," Dr. Steve Shelton of Palmetto Health said. "A lot of emergencies are unexpected. We have an advantage with this one knowing it's coming."

The hospital has a different goal.

"The goal is patient safety, no one harmed. No changes and it won't look different here but we need to anticipate those extra folks," Shelton said. "We anticipate very similar to a summer football game where you will have a lot of environmental emergencies, like dehydration and things like that."

Palmetto Heath is discussing scenarios like the cell phone services failing, employees having trouble getting to and from the hospital, and more importantly – a few potential chaotic days in the ER.

"We do anticipate increasing staff to prepare specifically in our emergency area," Shelton said.

There is another concern about patients potentially coming in with untreatable eye injuries.

"It is unfortunate that the eye injury is untreatable at the time," Shelton said. "There is nothing we can do acutely about the eye injury. It's only time will tell what the effects of it are."

In fact, a lot of doctors are worried about eye injuries. You should only observe the eclipse if you're wearing a pair of certified eclipse eyewear.

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