September 22, 2005
Health Professionals and Hurricane Rita -- Tell Us Your Stories
With Hurricane Rita now moving toward Texas, we are concerned that there will again be a need for health professionals to step forward and provide relief efforts and/or to care for large numbers of displaced people. If you are a health professional (physician, nurse, NP, PA, pharmacist) living and working in the Gulf Coast, do let us know what is happening. How is your workplace preparing for this storm? Are patients being evacuated from hospitals and nursing homes? What unusual experiences have you had? How difficult is it to tend to your own life and family and to your professional responsibilities as well? Click here to write us with your first-person accounts; photos are also welcome. Please include your permission for us to consider posting your story or photos on the blog.
We started out preparing ourselves as best we could. The MS State Board of Nursing told me to try to be self-sufficient. They did not know what conditions we would meet when we got to the MS Gulf Coast. We were directed to the South Mississippi Regional Center in Long Beach. When we arrived, we were greeted reluctantly by some emotionally and physically exhausted nurses. They had weathered the hurricane with their patients. They were reluctant to turn over their charges to strangers. After much coaxing, we were able to get them to leave. Many did not have homes to go to or their home was damaged so badly they could not stay there. We worked 19-20 hours a day in extremely hot conditions, unable to bathe, limited food and cool water, but it was the most rewarding work I have experienced in almost 30 years of nursing. The area was so devastated you just looked around in awe. This campus sits atop an elevated stretch of land. The hurricane demolished the homes from the beach to the railroad tracks. The campus is just north of the tracks. The area north of the campus looked like numerous tornadoes had ripped through homes and trees. This little campus had minimal damage compared to the surrounding area. It looked as though it had been spared! This campus houses the mentally retarded. The residents did not appear to understand what had happened. They were going on about their daily activites as close to normal as possible. This work was so rewarding because of the residents and the nurses that worked there. The 3 RNs that went with me felt as strongly as I did about the entire experience. Words cannot express the way we felt. We cried when we got there as we listened to the nurses tell us about what they had experienced. We cried when we left, because we were not ready to leave. We know in our hearts we provided the best service we could under the circumstances. We also felt like we left a part of ourselves there. One day we hope to return. The nurses we met were remarkable and we will not forget them.
Posted by: Kathy Bryant, RN | Oct 4, 2005 5:36:37 PM
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