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.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

All good things.....

In the movie "The Replacements", Gene Hackman, as Coach Jimmy McGinnty, said, "greatness, no matter how brief, has a way of staying with a (person)... it changes them".

Since our arrival here, there has been talk of the impending task of demobilization. Our job, a simple one really, is now near completion. We were suppose to provide the medical support needed to help Waveland recover. We were, if one would allow, the bandaid needed to protect and assist the wound that has been inflicted upon this body, Waveland, a chance to heal. Much like any good bandaid, it is coming time to peel us off and allow the body to finish the task of healing.

For those of us, and this must include all those individuals who have been feverishly working behind the scenes, we will be forever grateful for having been part of this experience. We came together as individuals and formed a community with a common purpose. This moment will change us.

A team member and I noted today that unlike our earlier deployments (this is a second deployment for us) this one is different. There is not the loss of the sense of purpose. None have waned in their dedication to provide their best. The level of compassion and humanity has not diminished in any way. However, we both noticed that as we near completion of our mission, we now have the time to stop and take stock of what we have and done.

There are shower trucks here, and therefore everyone is able to take hot showers regularly. The barricade of cars has been replaced by a chainlink fence, with an actual gate. There is greater certainty regarding supplies, meals, and other things that we had to struggle through during the earlier deployments. A routine taken hold, and normalcy is fast approaching.

Next week, when we begin our depature, this will mark the start of our demobilization phase. When we are all home, if we come together as a group once more, we stand a better chance of learning from this experience. If we, as we had done here, work with each other, will be better able to assess what will need improvement, changing, and amendments.

A scar will be left on this town and its people as a reminder of this assault. We, however, will have acted as witnessess to the true greatness of this moment. The greatness comes in the way professionals motivated by "altruism" put aside their own concerns, no matter how briefly, to practice their craft in it best possible tradition. The true greatness is how a town has fought to move pass an event that nearly annihilated it. The true greatness is having a family, a person, fight back to recover was what once their life.

For those of us who have been witness to this, we will try to share this experience with our famlies, friends, co-workers, and others who may ask us. For those of us who have been here, we can become changed by re-focusing our priorities. It can remind us of why we, a Renae aptly said, entered the profession of healthcare - atruism. It should remind us to appreciate the precious moments and people that we may have been ignoring for so long now.

Camp K-mart, Katrina, or Mississippi will soon pass into the collective memories of all those who have been here and been touched by its presence. We were part of a good thing. None of us, when we first agreed to come here thought that this was going to be something that could be considered a moment of greatness. Most of us came for the adventure, the experience, the chance to do our job. We are all the better for having been here, not for what we have done, but for all that we have witnessed.