Florida Keys

Getting to a trauma center quickly can be critical, and in the Florida Keys, there are no trauma centers.

That leaves you the option of being airlifted out.   And that can cost you nothing -- or tens of thousands of dollars. 

But Monroe County is trying to make sure patients have the chance to choose that first financial option. 

  Before Hurricane Wilma's winds swept across mainland South Florida, the storm's waters surged over the Florida Keys — the largest storm surge the islands had seen since Hurricane Betsy in 1965.

Recent full moon high tides combined with weather systems off the Atlantic coast  to bring more than a week of "nuisance flooding" to streets along the Florida Keys.

And with sea level projected to rise between 3 and 7 inches by 2030, we can expect such events to become more frequent, according to Monroe County planners and consultants.

  

The unassuming blue-green building in Marathon once housed a strip club. Now it is a modern medical facility on the cutting edge of veterinary medicine applied to sea turtles.

The Turtle Hospital started in the 1980s, in the motel next door. It started taking in sea turtles that had been hit by boats or tangled in fishing line. And it has always seen patients, especially green sea turtles, with fibropapilloma tumors.

  The Florida Keys has a national reputation for being laid back and carefree — margaritaville.

But Monroe County, which encompasses the island chain, has the state's highest suicide rate.

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