While Miami-Dade's premier level one trauma center's rooftop helipad supports 11 tons, it might not withstand a hurricane stronger than a Category 2, and after 22 years it will undergo a hardening project.
Miami-Dade county leaders had no idea Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center was structurally storm deficient before Local 10 told them Tuesday morning.
"It's the only level one trauma center we have in this community and if we have a very severe hurricane, that's one place we must have open," said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
"Sometimes infrastructure costs a lot of money and I don't want to think because of that we are not learning the lessons from the past," said Rebecca Sosa, Miami-Dade Commission chair.
Records show an upgrade to the center will cost $8 million; primarily to add an exterior hardening shell wall around the exterior. Some of that money is coming from Federal Emergency Management Agency
Local 10 found South Florida congressional representatives looking for earmarks for it going back to 2009, calling Ryder Trauma Center "Unsuitable for a threat of a higher category storm."
"We actually added a fourth layer of mesh that's going to get us between a category 3-4 that has 150 mph wind gusts," said David Clark, Jackson Health System's director of capital projects.
The trauma center opened in May 1992, just three months before Category 5 hurricane Andrew obliterated South Dade.
Had the storm veered more to the north, the center may have not withstood the storm. There have been no structural upgrades on record since, despite toughening building codes.