Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Debbie McPherson, RN

My two deployments to Waveland, MS are two of the most wonderful experiences of my life. The devastation is like nothing I have ever seen. From the air it doesn't look real, but it is very real. One can only imagine pulling into your drive to see only a pile of rubbage, usually not theirs. Theirs might be located blocks away. Over and over, we heard their horror stories of floating off their roofs, clinging to trees for days, waiting to be rescued, trying to locate loved ones. The fear they must have felt! We hugged, we cried and still they smile. They continue to live in vehicles, tents, anywhere they can. In the field hospital, we treated 2nd and 3rd degree sunburns (one baby was airlifted to a burn center), puncture wounds, lots of infections, bites, fractures, MIs, strokes, anxiety, etc. Our patients ranged from infants to the elderly. We had so many donated supplies, almost everyone left with a bag; dsg supplies, sun screen, personal supplies, anything they needed. All children received stuffed animals and toys. The people are so humble, kind and very appreciative. We were thanked and hugged repeatedly. In 28 years of nursing, I have never felt as needed and appreciated. With smiling faces, their attitudes towards the future were positive. I hope to go back in a couple of years.

My last evening there, I was talking to a MS Public Health Nurse, who was set up in a trailer in front of our compound. She drove to Mobile and slept on a warehouse floor every night. She had been sent to southern MS before Katrina hit. Her first assignment was to care for special needs patients at a school in Mobile. They had no communication with co-workers or anyone from Saturday til Tuesday. She spoke of having to get patients from beach chairs to wheel chairs to go to the bathroom – they didn’t have enough cots – al the while in ankle deep water. Feeding sparingly, they still ran out of food. Some church people brought wieners and chips on Wednesday. Each patient received 1/2 wiener and 3 chips with a bottle of water. She said most patients did not have their meds. I told that must have been scary; she said they were too busy to be scared or worried. That day their deployment had been extended another week past October 4th. You have to respect these fearless nurses who cared for their neighbors. She ended our conversation by saying, "if and when NC needs help, MS will be the first state to arrive, I promise you that." What a heartwrenching blessing!

Our compound was ever changing, always improving; it was very impressive and quite comfortable. We met a lot of wonderful people from across the state of NC. Everyone worked together, doing anything necessary. All worked hard and had fun doing it. We knew we were making history and we wanted to make NC and SMAT proud!! We learned a lot and know we have a lot more to learn, and we gladly accept the challenge.

Special thanks go to Claudia, LT and Ginger for all your hard work organizing everything. Many thanks are due to our families and loved ones for their much needed support. Thank you.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Photos from mobile field hospital

Photos from mobile field hospital

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Photo from mobile field hospital

Larry Tucker, R.N., and Mississippi governor Haley Barbour at the mobile field hospital.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Yvette West, RN

Sorry for this being long - the team doesn't have access to the internet and I am now home, so I will fill you in on what has happened up to today.

We worked along side several governmental agencies to set up an incredible 500 bed field hospital. Unfortunately, we learned that the patients were reluctant to leave their local areas - even thought there may not be much left. So, we made plans to head home on Friday, Sept. 9.

As we were getting ready to board a bus on Friday afternoon, the mayor of Meridian drove up and requested our help in Long Beach, Mississippi. His wife was working in Long Beach at a clinic set up in an Episcopal School. The clinic is seeing around 200 patients a day and they were in dire need of medical staff. His story was incredible moving, and after tears shed by all, we boarded the bus and moved the team to Long Beach, Mississippi, on the gulf coast - about 8 miles from "ground zero". There is electricity but very spotty cell phone coverage.

We arrived late in the evening and found an unorganized but functioning clinic set up in the school gym - complete with some walls blown away. By noon on Saturday we had set up a patient receiving area that flowed into different stations - vital signs, physician visit, private area for physical exam, medication assessment with pharmacy consults, tetnus shots, and a private area for mental health assessment. Since we have received so many medications from many drug companies and drug stores, we are able to provide people who have lost all their medications another prescription and a 7 day supply of the med. We also set up a station where people can pick up personal care items such as soap, shampoo, etc. The school also has hallways dedicated to clothes, shoes, food, toilet paper, blankets, etc.

On Sat, I had the opportunity to "hit the road" with Laura Dickerson, RN (fellow Dukie) and a doc and wife team from Va. We drove to Waveland, MS (about 8 miles away) to visit a physician and his nurse wife (this is where the eye came over). We had learned that they were so shellshocked that they would not leave their property - and this was very unlike them. We found the house - three blocks from the beach. The house was standing but had experienced water up to the roof. The family had stayed in the attic during the storm and told us they were sure they were going to drown. They had 15 minerature horses and lost 5. The wife told me of walking around the area to find the bodies of the horses. All of their furniture was out in the yard and the house had a foot of mud inside. After talking to the doc about his neighborhood, he volunteered to show up who had injuries. He hopped on his bike and we followed in our van. We gave over 50 tetnus shots and treated and checked on several cuts and gashes. By the end of our home visits, he had volunteered to take 50 doses of tetnus and continue to give shots on his bike. This is only one of many examples of how the Duke team treated not only the physical health of someone but also their mental health.

Prior to this visit, I thought "why don't they just go to a clinic set up in the Wal Mart parking lot - about 2 miles away?" But after seeing the devastation and the total shock visible on their faces, these people are not capable of getting in their car and going anywhere. The doc's wife above told me it was all she could do to get out of her sleeping bag and start another day.

Since then, the team has done many home visits. They have visited a child with neurological deficits, on a vent, with pneumonia. This child has no possible way to get any treatment except by ambulance to a hospital - and that wasn't possible for several days. The team also found a 80 year old woman unresponsive on her floor due to dehydration. She's now in the hospital and doing well.

Back at the clinic, the team has performed many cases of minor surgery due to lacerations and puncture wounds, dehydration, exacerbation of chronic illnesses, and have negotiated with the Red Cross to provide medical care for many folks in a shelter. The clinic will be moving out of the gym into large tents on the school property so the gym can be used as a relief center. The team is seeing around 200 patients a day, are well equipped but will need more volunteers as the group now comes home.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Duke Medicine Hurricane Relief Team Blog

Hello to all:

Sorry I have been remiss in posting regularly, we now have more reliable Internet service. The relief team arrived here at the Field Hospital at about 0245 Saturday morning, got a brief orientation and off to bed. The Day shift went on duty at 0700 and saw one of our busiest days yet, treating nearly 300 patients. It was great to see the fresh troops come on-board....and it was very, very difficult to see the first group leave.Our Duke RAC SMAT personnel are some of, NO...THE FINEST folks I have ever worked with They gave 1000% all the time. It was truly amazing to see a group of people from eight Trauma Regions thrown together for the first time in terrible conditions, with minimal sleep and marginal equipment and within hours they were a fully functional medical treatment team. There were friendships built during this deployment that will last for years. The SMAT is strong, it will get stronger and it will be one of the best Disaster Medical Teams in the country before long.

Conditions here at the Field Hospital improve daily. We have a trailer-mounted CT Scanner up and running and just recieved 2 Istat machines for blood tests. We have now 4 tents and 1 reefer-trailer full of supplies. Our Pharmacy trailer would put Eckerd's to shame. The first-wave Pharm folks were outstanding. We have a washing machine, showers and air-conditioning in most of our tentage now. We have built a small city here, with much of the credit going to Duke SMAT's own Kelly Blackman. Kelly and Alan Pate from SERAC along with several other folks were the Public Works Team. These guys can literally build anything from nothing......2 IV poles and a piece of scrap steel from the shopping cart rack at K-Mart makes into a fine antenna tower! Both Kelly and Alan will be happy to know that their replacements are carrying on the traditions they established.

One bit of Irony.......As you know, we are setting in a Kmart parking lot.......after having been herer for a few days I happened to look up at the front wall of the Kmart building last night and right in line with the Main Street of the camp it reads "The Saving Place". We couldn't have picked a better spot.

You can tell we have been here for a while, we are starting to see some of the same patients everyday......they are all legitimate, whether it be for another minor ailment or just for the morale support, we joyfully treat both! These folks here have essentially nothing, the destruction in this area is amazing. For about 3/4 mile back from the beach the destruction is TOTAL. For the next 1/4 to 1/2 mile the buildings are in various stages of collapse and destruction. From there inland it varies, but in general there are few buildings that are servicable. The recovery process for this area will be long, expensive and likely very painful. At some point I will get the over 200 pictures posted for you.

Had the pleasure of having three Duke Students from the staff of The Chronicle here yesterday. Very professional folks that asked better questions than some of the professional reporters that have been through here lately.

Got a chance today to travel over to the Long Beach area today where Dr Mark Sebastian, Carrie Pinkham-Reidy, Frank DeMarco and the rest of the Duke crew are operating. They have a fine clinic operation running there and are in good spirits.

Have to run, so more later. Join SMAT, it will be the most rewarding thing you have ever done!

Larry Tucker
Regional Disaster Coordinator
Team Coordinator, DRAC SMAT II

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bob Leeds, Pharmacist, mobile field hospital in Waveland, Miss.

Greetings from the disaster zone! We are in a parking lot in Waveland Miss. We have set up a field hospital in the parking lot of a K Mart that was under approx 33 feet of water. We arrived here late Sat night and worked all night to set up a perimeter and begin triage ops. We found many bodies in the flooded out buildings here in this area. Conditions continue to improve each day. We are seeing between 150-250 patients each day. We have an improvised helipad and have sent multiple patients out to hospitals outside of the impacted area. The area here is unbelievably devastated. The eye of the storm came through here and the force of the winds and water razed most wooden and many steel and concrete structures. I spoke with a woman yesterday who spent 18 hours in a tree holding on so that the water would not carry her away. The story is one that is repeated over and over. These people have nothing....

We are spending tremendous amounts of time moving supplies into positions that can be used to distribute to those that are in need....and there are many who are in need. I have been in touch with many aid organizations that are sending glucometers and diabetic supplies to distribute. Insulin and syringes are scarce commodities, but we recieved an SNS spply that included some syringes late last night....we will undoubtably use all today.

We are sleeping in the transport trailers that we used to haul our equipment down here. These are great accomodations compared to the tent/hut encampments that are proliferating as people move out and away from the debris zone. We are utilizing tremendous amounts of anti lice and anti scabies meds as the hygenic conditions in these areas are still rather primitive.
These people need your help and your prayers.

I will see you when I return.

Robert S. Leeds, R. Ph.
Clinical Pharmacist MSICU/CCU
Durham Regional Hospital

Yvette West, R.N., Meridian, Miss.

(Editor's note: Doctors, nurses and other clinicians from Duke were flown by a government-chartered jet to Meridian, Miss. to help staff a U.S. government field hospital being established at Key Air Field, a National Guard post. The Duke team will serve under the direction of the NIH. Equipment for the hospital is being brought in by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. )

Right now we haven't had any patients. We are looking forward to taking care of patients. The Duke team is checking out our options to provide care here or in other areas and a decision will probably be made tonight whether to come home.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Larry Tucker, R.N., mobile field hospital, Bay St. Louis, Miss.

"Things are going well down here. We treated about 100 patients again yesterday. The Duke SMAT is doing mostly triage work and we're primarily working the day shift. Living conditions get better each day - - we've managed to create washtubs for the team from some materials we brought down with us. The internet isn't working too well just yet, but we should have land lines up and running by the end of the day today. I need to run - - I'm catching the bus to the showers!"