Friday, September 16, 2005

Katrina: Nurse Heroes

I'd blogged that physicians and EMT's were emerging as heroes in the Katrina story. Well, nurses, too. From

"When Katrina got tough, nurses got inventive"

The 3,000 people packed into East Jefferson General Hospital just outside New Orleans could not stay away from the windows, fascinated to see Hurricane Katrina blow over trees and batter buildings.

"By morning we saw the water rising. That was when we saw the nursing home across the street was still occupied," said Beverly Marino, a nurse in the hospital's emergency department.

Marino and her fellow emergency department staff have heard the horror stories of 34 frail patients left in a nursing home to drown, of looting and of murder in their hometown.

But their own tales are of heroism and inventiveness.

The distressed East Jefferson staff had to wait until the water stopped rising to wade through chest-deep water and get the elderly residents and their caretakers out of the one-story apartment-style building across the street from the emergency department ramp.

"They had one fan. They had a dog over there. They had the one fan on the dog," Marino said.

"We bathed them, changed them and got them on a bus," Marino added.

"One lady said 'I'm going on a bus, I'm going on a bus -- I have to get my good dress on.' They (the rescuers) were rooting around in her closet for the good dress."

Of 12 New Orleans area hospitals, three main suburban centers were not shut down by the August 29 hurricane.

Staff at East Jefferson, the West Jefferson Medical Center and the Ochsner Clinic have worked without a break since they were locked in by Katrina's furious winds and the fast floods that followed when the levees broke.


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