No time to read, but holy moly:
Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2005 11:06:09 -0500
Subject: OT - Neonatal Evacuation Report from New Orleans
I received this from a friend of mine. She received it from someone she knows.
Subject: Neonatal Evacuation report from New Orleans to UAB/Children's Hospital from Jason Peterson RN Coordinator, Critical Care Transport -- Children's Hospital of Alabama
Just to update everyone. We just returned from New Orleans to Birmingham with 4 neonatal patients at the same time on transport. We flew to New Orleans airport via jet and Lifesaver helicopter met us there with the helicopter. Lifesaver took 3 crew members from the airport to Oschner since there was no ground access due to flooding. Oschner's heliport was under water and we landed on the parking deck. With equipment in hand, we walked down 6 flights of stairs, (all of the elevators are out of service), through the hospital where there is caution tape and leaks all throughout the hallways. We then walked up two flights of stairs to the unit where they are now caring for the babies. Luckily it was now the 2nd floor instead of originally the 10th floor. All of the windows were blown out of the 10th floor by the storm. On the flight into the airport all you could see is destruction and water everywhere, I thought "Truly a saddening sight", then with the flight on the helicopter it got worse. We were much closer at that point and could see more destruction, more water, looters, Police/ EMS, and uncontrolled fires all over.
Upon entering the make-shift nursery, the first two staff were on phones crying their eyes out talking to someone on the other end trying to cope. All of the staff in the unit were overjoyed to see that someone had come to help. They had requested help from all over but they told us we were the only ones to show up today. They thought we were coming for only one patient and when we told them we had the resources to transport 4, they were shocked to say the least. Then we said maybe we can help more tomorrow and to our surprise they all were even more excited that we would come back again to help. The nurse practioner in the unit pulled me aside and asked me "How bad is it out there looking from the air? I mean really, is it as bad as they say?" With tears running down her face and tears in my eyes I said "Yes Ma'am it is, maybe worse and my heart is broken for all of you down here". With that she had to walk away.
All of the staff are working in t-shirts, shorts and flip flops due to the lack of ventilation. It was at least 110-120 degrees in the unit. They had all of the babies in open cribs or warmers that were off and all were down to their diapers, some with elevated temps still. All of the staff have been there since Saturday and said they don't think they will be able to leave until the 5th of September. With that said, many have nothing to go home to.
Tonight all 4 babies came back to UAB RNICU but they have at least two more babies for us to transport tomorrow and Dr. Prince here in Birmingham said we could bring one back to TCH and one to UAB. Plans may change by tomorrow.
New Orleans is in a total state of destruction and chaos and my heart is broken so badly. I didn't have good words to make them feel better but made sure they all knew they were in my thoughts and prayers.
I'm sorry to have been so chatty but I had to release somewhat.
Respectfully and mentally/emotionally drained,
Jason Peterson RN
Coordinator, Critical Care Transport
Children's Hospital of Alabama