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A Message of Hope

From the Desk of Dr. Antonucci

Oct. 19, 2022

Following Hurricane Ian, our community has faced unprecedented devastation, and we have all been tested. It is truly heartbreaking to see the images of destruction and hear stories from our Lee Health team members who’ve lost their homes or other property.

In the aftermath of such a powerful storm, we’ve come together to care for each other, despite many of us facing unimaginable hardships. We are not only Lee Health Strong; we are Southwest Florida Strong.

Throughout all of the despair, Lee Health team members have shared their heartwarming stories of resilience and heroism. I’ve witnessed examples of extreme perseverance from our teams. Not only have they come together to help the community, but they’re leaning on each other, doing whatever they can to help one another. These messages and reminders of hope are exactly what we all need right now.

Our team members left their families and came to work during the hurricane because they are committed to caring for you and our entire community. During the storm, most lost communication with their loved ones, so they had no idea if their families were safe or if they had a house to go home to. However, their dedication to caring for others never faltered. They are true health care heroes.

One of our team member’s home completely flooded. He was able to swim to safety, but he lost everything. Immediately after the storm, he walked to work so he could help care for others in one of our hospital’s emergency departments.

Another team member, who lives on Pine Island and has a barge, jumped into action to begin rescuing neighbors right after the storm. She was finally able to get cell service on Sunday after the storm passed and she was rescued on Monday. She selflessly came into work that night to continue helping others.

Also on Pine Island, we have a physician whose home was swept away into the Gulf during the hurricane. Immediately after losing her home, she began volunteering medical care with a local fire department to help those around her.

These are just a few examples of the countless stories of compassion and determination to serve our community.

But, they’re not just stories of Lee Health team members. They represent our entire Southwest Florida family. And we are extremely grateful for all of you. For rallying behind us. For your support. For believing in us. Many of you have donated food, diapers or just simply asked how you can help. We are directing anyone who wants to support our team members to visit the Lee Health Foundation’s site at https://leehealthfoundation.org to make a contribution to the Lee Health Employee Relief Fund.

We also want to remind you that we are here for you too, just like we’ve been for more than 100 years. Our Lee Health hospitals are fully operational and we are here to serve you and your families.

Southwest Florida has a difficult road ahead. But we are going to get through this, and we are going to do it together.