UNC Hospitals' Hurricane Katrina Response Blog


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.

Friday, September 02, 2005


Spirits are high as we are finally making progress. We're barreling down the road in a convoy that stretchea as far as the eye can see . Lights are flashing . Incredible support along the way. People stopping to cheer us on as we move along. So far only one naked truck driver. Really. The things you can see from a bus. Just joined by a huge Guard convoy travelling with us. One stop already, just into SC to fix the breaks on Med-1. The trucks we have are really straining to pull the massive trailers, loaded to the ceiling with supplies. We're all so proud to be a part of such an effort. Already missing Melissa, Jackson, and Berk. Latest is we're staging in Jackson and onto deeper South. Maybe New Orleans, maybe Gulfport. People in droves waving anything they can find out their windows. Great stuff.

Leaving For The Gulf

We are on the bus heading out to Jackson, MS. Thanks to modern technology we are able to post while we are riding down the road. We must look impressive with 2 tractor trailers, multiple SUVs with trailers and a police escort as we head south on the highway. The plan is to go to Jackson with the possibility of going further south. There is a chance that we will be able to divert before Jackson, but we are excited to be on our way to help. Earlier today we were joined by a vascular surgeon as well as another anesthesiologist adding to our ability to provide complex care. We will update again when we know where our final destination is (if we have cell access).

They are off!

The MidCarolina RAC SMAT team left early this morning to rendezvous in Charlotte with other SMAT teams from NC. They received briefings and waited for the "go" from the coast. Finally, at about 4:15PM, the word came from HHS to leave for Jackson, Missippi, where they will either receive further instructions to either move on to another site or set up there to begin receiving patients. The medical center at the university there has been hit hard with incoming patients, so there would be a lot to do there and that may be what happens.

Will update as I get other news! All is well!

Chris Ogden
Trauma Program Manager

We have made it to Charlotte, near CMC at the Medic facility. There are about 70 of us here, from all walks of life. We've been through the cattle herding process, having received new "Hurricane Katrina" I.D.'s. I was immunized against HepA and Tetanus. For the record, I got the last hepA dose, so if Ben gets sick it'll be my fault. No worries, though, because we also were oriented to our new home, MED-1. An incredible facility with two OR's, ICU beds, and room for 110 patients in the attached tent facility. We are travelling with our own SWAT team to keep us safe. My new best friends. MED-1 has the ability to do just about everything from general surgery to thoracic. Fully loaded - from complete OR sets, an autoclave, ultrasound, digital X-ray and satellite directed communications. There are 6 docs - Ben, myself, an Orthopedic traumatologist, an anesthesiologist, and 2 EM docs. Lots of nurses, EMT's PharmD's - the works. We're likely heading to a staging facility in Baton Rouge, but we're not sure. After seeing the facilities, meeting the people involved, and bearing witness to this incredible effort, Ben and I are very proud to be a part of this.

Ready to leave

Slept well last night, but some thoughts of today's journey. Averything is packed. Ben just pulled into the driveway. Packing supplies into his Mom's truck. Waypoint in Alamance. Then off to Charlotte for the big leg of the trip.
Chip Rich