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.