As part of the response to Hurricane Katrina, a team of UNC Hospitals' physicians and staff left Friday, Sept. 2 to travel to the Gulf Coast as part of the MidCarolina Trauma RAC's State Medical Assistance Team II. The team from UNC Hospitals is comprised of: Christine Clark, RN; Randy Kearns; Preston "Chip" Rich, MD; Michele Rudisill, RN; Ed Wilson, RN; Ben Zarzaur, MD; and Janet Young, MD. A second team from UNC Hospitals left Sept. 9 to relieve the first group of volunteers. The second team to help staff the K-Mart Klinic in Waveland, Miss., is comprised of: Alberto Bonifacio, RN; Joe Manese, Radiology Tech; Peter Milano, 5th year surgical resident; Andrew Millager, Pharmacist; Jim Rawlings, Pastoral Care; Tina Schade-Willis, MD; Renae Stafford, Trauma Attending Surgeon; Jim Starlin, Air Care Communications; and Wes Wallace, MD., attending, emergency medicine.

Monday, September 19, 2005


It's been a few days since arrival, some moments seem forever in passing and others seem to go too fast. The devestation seen on arrival is almost too much for the senses and pictures do not do it justice. New Orleans seems to get the news but the home front of this natural disaster is 90,000 miles and Waveland and Bay St. Luis is just a representation. I wish that everyone could see this firsthand so that they would never forget just how fortunate and precious life is and how much help these people really need.

The people I have met who live here are a remarkable group of people. They are strong, courageous, loving, and giving. They would give anyone the shirts off of their back. I have seen someone give away her own tent to someone whom she considered less fortunate than she. These people have nothing. Basic infrasture is gone. Electricity, water, sewer. Schools for the children beginning is a rumor that many of the parents often ask me about when they bring their children in to be triaged. Really that is not a concern right now. What do you wash your children in when the water is contaminated when you need the water for drinking, cooking and other life necessities? Curfew is still 8pm and rumored to be extended to 11pm soon so people put off medical care for two days or so until they can get out. There is a wonderful kitchen next to us serving two meals a day--we get our two free meals a day there too if we choose (or from NASA if we want--brought in. I go in to sit with these people and listen to their stories. They are all individual but the same. "I lost everything, my house is gone, my car, my business, my job" Sometimes they lost their family member. Getting insurance to pay now is difficult. Anger and depression is setting in. More are deciding to leave and some are staying either because they don't want to leave or they just can't because they have no where to go or can't afford to go. They never complain about anything to us when they come into the clinic. Always thanking us for anything they receive.

I work with a great bunch of people. This team is awesome. The people who volunteer are fantastic. I haven't met a single person with a poor attitude. Everyone is always upbeat. We all listen to one another, talk to one another. We work so much you would think we would be tired of one another but that is not true at all. We all believe in this and it shows. We all express the same thing. How can we feel bad about ourselves or our situations or have bad attitudes when there are persons, our neighbors, our friends, right here, who have lost so much.

This opportunity to serve this great area of need is medicine doing what it was meant to do. This is medicine without the bureaucracy. Well, perhaps there is bureaucracy, but it is getting out of the way so that we can do the job we need to do right now. We see our patients, treat our patients, give them what they need. I don't ask them what their insurance is or fill out tons of paperwork. We work together as a team right here. We are a team, close knit group. Everyone pulls together. No one has a "job". Everyone has the same job, "get it done". IV needs started, pick up antibiotic from pharmacy, organize the supplies, pull trash from the compound, make the coffee, etc. We just do it. We do it and do it fast and efficiently.

The KMart General as well are called now even with a mail box as of today is flourishing. Generators whirl daily to power Med One running the CT scanner and XRay, lights and the little town we call home. We sleep in the same tent as the hospital behind the patients rotating often overlaping one another but not ending until the work is done. We have mental health set up, an eye clinic and dental clinic have set up just outside, an immunization clinic has set up outside of the clinic compound. The cars have been hauled away and an official fence with wire has been rolled around the hospital to keep looters and people out who might try to steal drugs, etc. Security is tight with ATF, US Marshalls, Police, National Guard but they are starting to scale down slightly. EMS send the patients to us and spend quite a bit of time here with us just like a regular ED.

This is an experience that will change your perception of nursing forever and teamwork forever. You will never be the same. You will never accept the ordinary and will want to be extraordinary.


Blogger MichelleW said...

re: Strange Rash Circling

Expect to see more of this rash
It is not fireants

8:54 AM  
Blogger MichelleW said...

Check Collembola at

8:56 AM  
Blogger MichelleW said...

Excerpt from Infection Control Today article:

Collembola are referred to as the earliest fossil proof of insect life on the planet, and now, Collembola are being found in human hair and skin. Infestations appear to be communicable from particular environmental conditions or from one person to another, and there is no known cure once a person is infested. And worse yet, people desperate for medical help with this problem are seldom taken seriously.

9:05 AM  

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