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, October 12, 2005

First impressions

After reading the blogs from a previous deployee, it is hard for me to know where to start. Things were a little tough for me initially, as the group that is here now to "see things through to the end" is made up largely of people who were in the first deployment. Watching their reunions was something--I have to admit envy from the obvious strong attachments that are present amongst these team members due to their shared experiences. They were very quick, however, to make sure that I met people and was included in conversations. It didn't take too much prodding to get people to start talking about their impressions of the "past" and the "present". Different things like, "I can see the road--0where did all the cars go" and "the smell is gone"--talking about triage lines that stretched across the parking lot, and working straight out from 6AM until close. Business now is lighter; more urgent care in origin due to our transition to the "NC Clinic", wiht 8-4 hours. Provisions are in place to make sure that people that show up outside those hours get the care they need. Demobilization plans continue, with a final "okay" from MS PH expected today. Hancock Memorial is running wiht 8 ED beds and the National Guard mobile hospital set up outside. Between the two, they have trauma capabilities, OR, xray, and blood bank. Mental health continues to be a tragedy of this hurricane; there are many more needs than can be met. Hancock did not have that capability before, and patients in true crisis, outside of the normal mental health clinic hours, have to be sent to Gulfport. PTSD is on the rise and federal and state agencies are trying to help address these issues. We unfortunately do not have a mental health professional with us for this last deployment--

My first impressions--surprised at the calm, lack of chaos; amazing amounts of debris; KMart is still not boarded up and that is a problem (the remaining odor issues). The clinical staff in the acute and triage areas are amazing in their compassion and their energy, seeing and caring for the vast majority of patients that come in. Med 1 should be starting to break down their tent and pack up tomorrow, leaving whenever they are done with that process. Their leaving will not have any impact on patient care. NC SMAT will remain, delivering care in tents until final pull out. The NCOEMS and Public Health staffs continue to run an amazingly complex operation with relative ease. The dedication to this mission is impressive. The point of the mission is to care for the people of this region, and SMAT and NCOEMS can be sure that they have not lost sight of that objective. I am proud to be here with them.