Flood Risk to Hospitals on the United States Atlantic and Gulf Coasts From Hurricanes and Sea Level Rise

Hurricanes have caused major healthcare system disruptions. No systematic assessment of hurricane risk to United States hospital-based healthcare delivery has been performed. Here, we show that 25 of 78 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) on the United States Atlantic and Gulf Coasts have half or more of their hospitals at risk of flooding from relatively weak hurricanes. 0.82 m of sea level rise expected within this century from climate change increases the odds of hospital flooding 22%. Furthermore, in 18 MSAs at least half of the roads within 1.6 km of hospitals were at risk of flooding from a category 2 storm. These findings identify previously undescribed risks to hospital-based care delivery in Atlantic and Gulf Coast communities. They suggest that lower intensity hurricanes can have outsized impacts on healthcare access, particularly in places where per capita bed availability is low.


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