Austin, Texas, area nurses and physicians who serve in the National Guard are being called to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, according to an article in the Austin-American Statesman.
Judith Chedville, an advance practice nurse with Austin Regional Clinic, was scheduled to arrive in Dallas Monday night to meet unit 949 BSB Charlie Company, which has members throughout the state who are trained to handle mass casualties, according to the article.
Chedville is one of 12,000 members of the Texas Army and Air National Guard who were mobilized Aug. 28. Active duty units also are on standby to deal with the flooding and continuing rain in the affected area, according to Military.com.
“It is imperative that we do everything possible to protect the lives and safety of people across the state of Texas as we continue to face the aftermath of this storm,” Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas said in the Military.com article.
About 900 Texas Guard members were mobilized before Harvey hit the Gulf Coast Friday and Abbott increased the number to 3,000 on Sunday.
Although, she is not a member of the military, critical care nurse Allie Pillow of Nashville also is making her way to Texas to lend a hand, along with a few other local nurses.
“It’s all hands on deck, all the time,” Pillow said, according to a WKRN.com article. “People don’t ask questions. You just do whatever you need to do.”
In the article, Pillow expressed concern for her fellow nurses in Texas. “These ER nurses that are stuck down there, they have lost everything,” said Pillow. “But they don’t know the actual devastation because they’re not able to leave the hospital.”
These ER nurses that are stuck down there, they have lost everything. But they don’t know the actual devastation because they’re not able to leave the hospital.”
Pillow will fly to Dallas where she will board a bus to Houston, followed by a boat ride to a Houston hospital. “It’s the nature of what I feel like of our profession is, we want to help others,” Pillow said in the article.
Pillow is aware she may not be required to provide “normal emergency care” when she arrives. “… it’s things like cholera, it’s things like tetanus,” said Pillow. “There’s so many things that are gonna be coming up.”
While many hospitals and health systems made significant investments in disaster preparations and fortifying their facilities in the post-Tropical Storm Allison and post-Katrina era, a hurricane and its aftermath still can wreak havoc, no matter how prepared a hospital is. “We’ve made significant investments,” Umair Shah, MD, MPH, executive director of Harris County’s public health department,” said according to an Aug. 28 New York Times article. “The challenge is until it unfolds there’s so many moving pieces and it’s never the same as the situations you’ve previously encountered.”
According to the article, water rose in the basement of Ben Taub Hospital, which had spent billions of dollars on flood protections. Officials announced an evacuation on Aug. 27, but could not begin evacuations because the hospital was surrounded by water and rescuers could not reach its 350 patients. On Monday afternoon, a call went out on local radio for a vendor to provide food for the hospital, according to the article.
As of Monday afternoon, 10 to 15 other hospitals and various nursing homes, some in rural communities, also have evacuated or begun evacuating since the storm made landfall.
We can be dry and open, but if you can’t deliver patients to the medical center, that’s our biggest concern.”
Other hospitals, while still able to operate, were cut off by floodwater from patients trying to reach them. Hospital staff members had trouble getting to work as well, according to the New York Times article.
In parts of the state, Harvey knocked out utilities, forcing hospitals to rely on backup systems.
Texas Medical Center in Houston’s post-Allison preparations at most of its hospitals appeared to have proven beneficial during Hurricane Harvey, as submarine doors protected foundations and kept the power on.
With ambulance routes flooded, however, potential patients had difficulty reaching the complex. “I’ve never heard so few sirens as I have in the last few days, which is upsetting,” William McKeon, Texas Medical Center’s president and chief executive, said in the New York Times article. “We can be dry and open, but if you can’t deliver patients to the medical center, that’s our biggest concern.”
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