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, October 10, 2005


At 4PM today the NC Field Hospital will cease to exist and the NC Clinic will take its place. The gradual process of weaning us away from this community begins. If all goes well, by the end of this week this process will be continue on to it full completion.

There is a certain level of uncertainty that some feel. Rightfully, there are some concerns if Hancock Hospital will be ready to take on the volume of patients that will continue to need help. Questions remain of whether they are adequately recovered to manage the task that they must reclaim - taking care of the citizens of this community.

Many years ago I was injured. It was a traumatic accident, which I was very luck to have had very little permanent debilitating injuries from. The people around me, my family and friends, worried about my recovery. Once released from the ICU, and shortly after the hospital, I worked hard to reclaim my life. I moved on, keeping the memory of the accident fresh in my mind. I looked ahead to the future. And, having had the experience, made some conscious decisions of the things that I intended to change. For me, the task was to not allow the accident to cripple me, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was determined to move on with life, and have the accident become nothing more than a part of my personal history.

During this process my friends and family worried about me. They were concerned that I was pushing myself more than I should have been. They offered to continue to do things for me. They let me know that they were available to me 'for anything'.

At that time, this type of attention quickly became irritating. I was appreciative of the concern and dedication they displayed, but I wanted these people, whom I knew meant only the best of things, to just leave me alone. I was recovered and could manage on my own. I needed the chance to re-take my old life back, and continue to weave the tapestry that would be the rest of my life.

This community will continue to need help for years to come. So much has been lost. Social constructs that made everyday living possible have literally been swept away. To reconstruct their shattered lives, the people of this community will require the assistance of many many individuals and groups.

They, however, will, at some point, want to be left alone to take care of their own business. When this time comes, their appreciation for the generosity, kindness, dedication, and commitment that we have all made to help them back on the path of recovery will not have diminished. They will, for the rest of their history, remember this chapter.

The human spirit to survive is strong. We each possess compensating mechanisms to protect and heal ourselves when confronted with physical and mental assaults. We cope and move on. We live. And hopefully, we learn.

I am thankful for having had the opportunity to have been part of this effort. I take with me cherished memories. Through this experience I have gained insight. It is my good fortune that I have been able to help someone onto the road to recovery. And in the process, I have met many wonderful and impressive individuals who represent the best ideals of the healthcare profession; some have become friends.

Thank you Waveland for letting me add you to my personal history. I have come full circle. My life is richer for this experience, as I am certain are those of everyone who have been part of this team. Tragedy has bonded us and changed us. Our lives will continue on.



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