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.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Funny, but everyone is so focused that I had to ask three people before anyone new what day it was. Wednesday. And that was only because he cheated and had a digital watch. We're begining to settle into a routine of sorts. The helipad is really busy now, sometimes 2 at a time. It's rfeally loud here. Between the generators and the helicopters overhead, we're finding that we're all hoarse from talking. A couple people can't talk at all. Patients continue to stream in, but mostly during the daytime/evening because of the 11pm curfew that was imposed in the region. MI's, acute abdomens, fractures. Lots of pharyngitis, rashes, lacerations, sprains. Uncontrolled diabetes because people have run out of insulin. One guy had a terrible skin injury to the inside of both forearms from clinging to a tree for literally hours as the water rose. Every person here has an incredible story to tell - they were part of it, right here, in the eye of Katrina. Had to airlift patients yesterday to Mobile and Jackson. First trauma last night. 12 year old rolled his ATV. I was very proud of the resuscitation. Lots of teamwork. Very quiet, calm. Survey, FAST ultrasound exam, labs, blood gas, and packaged to go in probably 10 minutes. Sent to our friends in Jackson by the Coast Guard helo. Learning something about that. Whe you go to take patients to the pad, come back in before liftoff for anything bigger than the Hueys. The CG Dauphine really kits up the dust - and that's some nasty dust. Worked on a call schedule, but it doesn't really work because everyone is adamant about just working until the work's done. And there's a lot of work. So, everyone is pretty tired, - in a good way. Asked the MS epidemiologist to come by yesterday. Strange rash circling. We all think it's fireants and he agreed. Lots of MRSA around so we're sure to cover it. The OR is up and running. Three cases yesterday. Mostly things like soft tissue infections and the like. But we can and will do more if we need to. The teamwork here is truly something to remember. The support staff have done an incredible job of keeping things running. They have a call schedule to refuel the generators so they just run run run. They've hardwired the remaining parking lot lights to our generators. Because the lights were above the water, we can run them at night - brilliant. One person worked through the day yesterday to hand-build a shower from PVC and garbage bags. Pretty nice. We have 2 huge bladders in the back of the hospital that contain water for our use. We first run it through our own purification system. The local firetruck comes twice a day to assure we're full. Most important: we now have coffee. And diet cokes. For the more complex orders, Noble the busdriver is the go-to man. He's worked his sonnections with the outside world through his nextel so he can get you anything. Contact solution, a 6-pack of Iron City Light, a bucket of Fried chicke. You need it, you go find Noble. We're beginning to landscape now. Nice pretty potted tree from somewhere now adorns the triage entrance. We're learning so much about so many things it' s hard to imagine.