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 09, 2005

Winding Down

Things are really changing now. We seem to have reached critical mass and the growth of our encampment is now exponential. Added to our coffers are now a veterinary clinic, a FEMA truck with another satellite dish, the Department of Health, a CT scanner (to come today), and a News and Observer camper. You know it's time for a mission change when you can get wireless (like now) and Domino's delivers. Thirty pizzas last night. People are starting to excercise again, running down by the beach road. More and more people are returning to the area, and it's beginnning to look mre like a town again than the DMZ. Yesterday I and some some others were taken on a tour of the region by Brian and his son in a local church bus. Words do not describe the environment. They are all cliches. Utter devastation. Warzone. Third world. Ruins. Nothing. When we drove down the beach road, there is an appreciation for how beautiful it must have been. Live oaks, pines, some palms. That's looking mostly mostly to the left heading SE. Look the other way, and it's quite another story. The scene is like the black and white films I remember seeing in elementary school about Nuclear Explosions. Nothing is there but foundations. It looks like a forest of pilings. Completely cleared. What is unusual is the shear lack of anything. No beds, no mattresses, no refrigerators, no lamps. Nothing. Don't know where it all went. The water was clearly up in the trees as the debris clinging to the limbs indicates the water line. And it's up there. This area was entirely under water. You can tell the eye went throuogh because the wind damage appears to have been from several directions. Trees, including some of the 3oo year old live oaks, are not uprooted or blown over, but snapped in half like matchsticks.

We've now seen nearly 800 patients and I suspect we'll be very near 1,000 by the time we leave. We're keeping data which will be very interesting to review and analyze. A bit of beauracracy is springing from the no-paperwork zone. Forms for just about anything you may want to do are appearing in droves in MED-1. Helo transport, ground transport, you name it. I can't wait to get home, but this experience, and the people, and the faces, will always stay with me. Maybe it's because of the journey here, or maybe just luck of the draw, but as a group we've really created a team. I've made many friends - friends I will miss. Peter, MIke, Ben and I are heading out from Mobile tomorrow. We'll split in Atlanta. They'll then head to Wilmington and we'll make our way to the Triangle. Can't wait to see Melissa, Jackson, and Berk. One more day at the Kmart Klinic.

On the beach road, there lies the foundation of what used to be a church. Now there is nothing that remains but the alter and beyond it a view of the Gulf from where Katrina came. On the alter sits a lone offering plate which continues to fill amid the devastation. I have no doubt that this community will rebuild.