When gas shortages hit the New York/New Jersey region, Olivia Glah, RN, walked to see patients while carrying supplies.
For nurses at New Jerseys VNA Health Group, preparation began four days before Superstorm Sandy hit the New Jersey coastline Oct. 29.
The groups emergency strategy was spearheaded by Kathleen McConnell, RN, MPH, vice president of affiliate operations, and Marjorie Forgang, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, CNO and vice president of clinical operations.
Nurses reached out to more than 3,500 patients at home, established emergency transport and prioritized emergency rescue plans for vulnerable high-risk patients.
“In these kinds of circumstances, people feel very anxious and displaced,” Steven Landers, MD, MPH, president and CEO, VNA Health Group, said in a news release. “You have to be prepared for any situation. I believe this is where a community health nurse excels.”
Several VNAHG nurses made an impact on patients in the storms aftermath.
While en route to patient visits, home care nurse Mavis Doozie, RN, saw a man driving erratically, going the wrong way down a one-way street. He got out of the car and began shouting for help because his wife was having a baby. Doozie moved quickly to assist the mother in the successful delivery of a 9-pound baby boy.
The family had called for an ambulance, but it had been unable to get through the gridlock of traffic and the nonworking streetlights. When the husband attempted to reach the hospital himself, he also got stuck in traffic.
Upon delivery, Doozie wrapped the newborn in her coat and directed the father to drive to Newark (N.J.) Beth Israel Medical Center. At one point, Doozie had to step outside of the car with the newborn in her arms and direct traffic so the family could get to the hospital.
“I was just fortunate to be in the right place at the right time,” Doozie said in the news release. “As a nurse, we do whatever we have to do. That baby wasnt waiting to get to the hospital, and mom and I knew it.”
Olivia Glah, RN, BSN, waited two hours for gas after the storm before trying another station where, as she got closer to the pump, the gas again ran out. She decided to continue seeing her patients and to try and get gas the next morning. As she was pulling up to her first patients home, however, she ran out of gas. She continued on foot to see seven additional patients. She walked her rounds from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., covering a radius of three miles carrying approximately 60 pounds of supplies.
Marie Perillo, RN was sent to assist at a shelter and when she arrived found that it was ill-prepared to accept evacuees. She arranged for supplies, medications and physician assistance from local hospitals and was able to get some large stores such as Target and Costco to donate needed goods. She even used Facebook to request donations and received a strong response. She assisted evacuees, including Art, a man who was found after drifting with his dog on a mattress in water for two days. His home was completely destroyed. Upon an assessment, Perillo determined Art was on the verge of a seizure and was without his medication. She was able to have a nurse practitioner write a prescription and then drove to the pharmacy, waiting in line for an hour to provide Art with his much-needed medicine.
Catherine Donahue, RN, APN, a VNA school-based nurse practitioner, found 91-year-old Benito confused and disoriented outside the Monmouth University Shelter Clinic area where she was assisting. Upon checking his blood sugar level, Donahue discovered it was at the dangerously low level of 36. She immediately went to work to raise his levels and to prescribe insulin to be delivered to the shelter.
Jennifer Henning, RN, helped establish a shelter and quickly took charge to ensure a patient named Susan did not go without her dialysis treatments. Unable to get transportation from a local dialysis center, Henning took Susan herself.
“We do whatever we have to,” Henning said.