Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina - One Hospital's Experience in Mississippi

From the Hattiesburg American:

Forrest General Hospital is running short of water, is rationing food and has closed its doors to everyone but staff, patients and their families.

Hospital President William Oliver said one of the biggest problems the hospital has is a shortage of water, which he said is critical because “it is used for personal hygiene, cooking, cleaning, sterilizing equipment and for dialysis patients.”

Oliver said Forrest General is working with volunteer fire departments and various vendors to make sure there is enough water to maintain the bare necessities. Even though the hospital has enough food to last a few days, he said, it’s still being rationed.

At Wesley Medical Center, Catherine Pittman, director of customer service, said the hospital is open today for anyone in need of medical care.

“We will be open, but we will not be doing surgeries,” she said. “People who are sick can visit our emergency room.”

Pittman said the medical staff at Wesley put the needs of the patients above everything else during Hurricane Katrina.

“They were great troopers through this whole thing,” she said. “A lot of our employees stayed overnight to make sure our patients were cared for.”

Oliver said Forrest General has had a problem with people trying to use the hospital as a shelter. He said people needing shelter are being redirected to the James Lynn Cartlidge Forrest County Multi Purpose Center.

Oliver said the hospital has about 250 patients, and two generators are maintaining enough power for emergency situations. He said another generator is on the way.

“Facilities are very limited,” he said. “Once we get the resources, once some patients are discharged and we have water to clean, we should be able to accept patients. Without air conditioning, surgery has to be very limited.”

“This building did amazingly well,” he said. “We were very fortunate. Staff, doctors and employees stepped up to the plate to take care of patients during the storm.”


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