Like most evacuees from Hurricane Irma, Stephanie and Adrian Besil didn’t want to leave their home in Key Largo to stay at a shelter with strangers.
“It wasn’t what we wanted to do,” said Stephanie Besil, 30. “But with a Category 4 hurricane coming our way, we had no choice.”
So before Monroe County officials ordered residents to evacuate on Wednesday, the Besils decided they would seek shelter near or inside a hospital.
Stephanie Besil is due to deliver identical twin boys in mid-October — there’s “no chance” either will be named Irma, she said — and though she’s not expecting to go into labor during the storm, her pregnancy is considered high risk.
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The Besils packed their bags with enough clothes and supplies to last them and their one-year-old daughter, Iris, a few days, including a Dr. Seuss coloring book, an Olivia the Pig talking book, and Iris’s favorite doll.
They planned to ride out the storm at the Hampton Inn Dadeland, just west of South Dixie Highway/U.S. 1 and about three miles from Baptist Hospital Miami, where Stephanie plans to deliver.
“I was going to be either right next to a medical or in it,” Stephanie Besil said.
But when Miami-Dade officials ordered a mandatory evacuation for coastal areas Thursday, the Hamptons Inn closed and the Besils were left without a room.
On Friday, Adrian Besil, 40, checked with Baptist Hospital’s policy for sheltering expectant mothers, which is limited to women whose pregnancies are 36 weeks or more, and those considered by their doctors as high risk.
“We said, ‘Ok, that’s where want to go,’” Adrian Besil said Saturday. “This is a whole lot better than a hotel.”
About 200 pregnant women are being sheltered at four different Baptist Health South Florida facilities, with most at Baptist Hospital Miami and others at Homestead, South Miami and West Kendall Baptist hospitals, said Georgi Pipkin, a spokeswoman.
About 28 expectant mothers have sought shelter at Jackson Health System’s three campuses in Miami, North Miami Beach and South Dade. At Broward County’s Memorial Healthcare System, about 300 pregnant women are sheltered at hospitals in Hollywood, Miramar and Pembroke Pines.
At Baptist Hospital Miami, Stephanie Belis said the expectant moms have kept each other company.
“Everybody is just kind of getting to know everybody here, talking about pregnancy, how far along we are and everything.”