CA CNA Katrina Volunteers

This is the link to a public photo album

Thursday, October 20, 2005

from Linda

One of the most unexpected and most satisfying experiences of my trip to the Astrodome came in the meeting of a child who was truly a survivor.
On September 8, twenty four hours after being in Houston, our hotel had changed from the "safe haven" it had been to an extension of the Astrodome, as FEMA had enabled the evacuees to check into hotels in the area. Some rooms had 15 family members sleeping inside. The lobby, hallways, pool area were filled with questionable type people. At night we had policemen, police dogs, patrolling the hotel.
After a couple of days, we actually became quite adjusted to the new climate at our hotel. The evacuees were all very respectful, thankful and friendly to us. I actually triaged one young girl in the elevator, who had not had her Coumadin (for a history of pumonary emboli )for over 10 days and was asking what I think she should do.
Sitting by the pool one morning before going to work our 3:00pm-11:00 pm shift, a young boy came and sat in the chaiselounge next to me, obviously anxious to talk. His name was Andre, 12 years old from New Orleans with an unbelievable survivor story he so wanted to share. His family of 10 left their home with the rapidly rising water, to a local school, which also became flooded. They were on the 4th floor of the school, when the helicopter came to rescue this group. As their family was preparing to board the helicopter, Andre's mom developed a sudden asthma attack (stress I am sure!). Andre felt as if he couldn't deal with the situation any longer and passed out. When he awoke, he was in the sky hovering in the helicopter, with his family no where in sight. When the helicopter landed, there were hundreds of evacuees being airlifted to this safer area. Andre walked around sobbing for 5 hours looking for his family. He finally spotted his older brother, ran to him and cryed in his arms, until the rest of the family found them. He had me crying at this point. He also shared his middle school sweetheart had drowned and he was very upset about this. Overall, his family was anxious to start a new life in Houston, away from the drugs and violence where they came from in New Orleans. I visited with Andre for the next few days, if even for a few minutes to catch up on what was happenning as far as their housing and his new school. I gave him 2 self -addressed postcards to me, so we could be pen pals, but I have not heard from him. The human connections we made with so many of the evacuees was what made the rescue experience so rich and rewarding. I am hoping that many of these children will have better lives ahead, which would give the horror of Hurricane Katrina some positive outcome.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Article: 'California Angels' Fly Into Face of Disaster

'California Angels' Fly Into Face of Disaster
Volunteer nurses help keep a Baton Rouge hospital open, and spirits up
By Martin Miller
Times Staff Writer

October 3, 2005

BATON ROUGE, La. — As the state capital's largest public health hospital, the Earl K. Long Medical Center routinely accepted people other institutions didn't like to, or simply wouldn't. But immediately after Hurricane Katrina struck, the hospital, critically short of staff, began turning away desperate New Orleans evacuees who not only couldn't pay but who had just lost everything.

The hospital, whose mission it is to care for those whom no one else does, was forced to close to new patients. Amid the scramble and chaos, hospital officials weren't sure how many were refused aid.

Then the California nurses came.

The first wave of about 30 volunteers landed within four days of the disaster, immediately helping the medical center to almost double its patient load. The nurses, from across California, rapidly integrated into the overburdened facility, relieving weary local nurses and expanding overall levels of care in all parts of the hospital.

Since the California nurses arrived in Baton Rouge, the hospital has been forced to divert patients only a couple of times — but just for hours, not days. One of those blackout periods came during the transition between the first and second waves of California nurses.

"They are our California angels," said A.J. Barbier, the director of the medical center's nursing staff. "They received a round of applause when they showed up."

On Tuesday, the third wave of California nurses is slated to relieve the current crew.

In all, hundreds of registered nurses from California — on their own or funneled through charitable organizations like the Red Cross — have flown to the Gulf Coast, often on a moment's notice.

A substantial part of the nursing relief effort in Louisiana has been spearheaded by the California Nurses Assn., which has dispatched 200 volunteers and spread them between the Long facility and a facility in nearby Lafayette, and is now gearing up to supply four new clinics at Tulane University in New Orleans.

"Our nurses are giving care to many people who have gone without care for much of their lives," said Rose Ann DeMoro, the nursing union's executive director. "In a civilized society, not caring for our own is a disgrace and an embarrassment for us to the rest of the world."

The union, which represents 63,000 nurses in California, is poised to send still more members to the region — 1,000 more have volunteered — but funds are not available to cover the $1,500 in travel and other expenses it takes to send each nurse.

As it is, the volunteer nurses leave behind their colleagues, families and often their paychecks. A few nurses have vacation time to cover the roughly 10-day stints, but most are taking unpaid leaves.

"These people have lost everything," said Jim Van Fleet, 48, who works at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and has been in Baton Rouge for two weeks. "So I'm not getting paid. Big deal, so what."

The main focus of the California nurses has been Long medical center. The 219-bed facility, which shares a neighborhood with convenience stores, check-cashing stands and a strip bar, admits all the patients it can handle. It takes prisoners from the city's four nearby jails, the poor, and the uninsured, which regularly accounts for the bulk of its patient load.

The California nurses found the hospital by making calls to see where the biggest need would be after the disaster. There was little doubt it would be the public health facility in the state capital, about 75 miles northwest of New Orleans, which would be absorbing the most evacuees.

Like much of the nation in the early days of the disaster, the nurses were deeply moved by the images of the suffering in the region, and in New Orleans in particular.

"Everything I saw on television was unbelievable. Just heartbreaking," said Maureen Griffin, a 52-year-old registered nurse from San Bruno who has been at the Long facility for more than a week. "I've always wanted to do something like this, but I have a daughter. Well, she's 9 now and I decided I was tired of being frustrated by doing nothing."

In many recent national disasters, officials have discovered people want to help, but bureaucratic hurdles often frustrate those altruistic impulses. Volunteers show up only to be turned away, usually for reasons of insurance liability.

But shortly after Katrina struck, Louisiana officials signed an emergency order that allowed volunteer nurses to get to work almost immediately. A process that normally would take weeks, even months, was reduced to 10 minutes. With a photo ID and a copy of their nursing license, California nurses could begin helping patients.

"Patient care is patient care," Van Fleet said after administering 2 milligrams of morphine to a bone cancer patient who recently underwent reconstructive jaw surgery.

As nurses, they've witnessed their share of blood, pain and misery. It's part of their routine. And, indeed, within moments of being assigned to the emergency room, one nurse was part of a medical team that tried to restart an evacuee's heart. The team failed.

But what they hadn't experienced was caring for victims of the nation's worst natural disaster from society's lowest social rung. Many of the hospital's patients are elderly people with chronic conditions such as heart and respiratory problems and diabetes.

As the nurses pointed out, just moving an elderly person to a different room — not even one with a medical condition — can be a strain. And these patients were pulled off rooftops, loaded onto boats or helicopters, then forced to stay in one or more shelters before finally being taken to Baton Rouge.

One 83-year-old heart patient, who uses a wheelchair, said she spent four days in the Superdome. Or maybe it was another shelter. She was so disoriented, nurses weren't sure she knew where she had been.

"Everyone is overtired and stressed, but what we really try to do is to be more open to just listening to them," said Sonia Smith, 50, a registered nurse from Danville who has been at Long for over a week. "They've been through so much. They have a story to tell and we just try to be as empathetic as possible."

The nurses are staying in the hospital's old pediatrics ward on the fifth floor.

They sleep in shifts in rooms with six beds each. Their limited downtime is mostly spent talking quietly or reading. A countertop at the nurse's station holds a copy of "Till Morning Comes," a love story with a political backdrop written by a doctor.

They rarely get outside the hospital, but still try when they can to explore Baton Rouge. In fact, their bulletin board held a sign-up sheet for those wishing to attend a weekend prisoners' rodeo. Two names were on it.

Toward the end of a grueling day, Barbier, the hospital's nursing director, is back in her cramped office, a jumble of stacked books, files, diapers and bedpans. It's the picture of someone struggling to get back on top of things.

She's asked why the Californians came. Her phone, as it has done constantly for the past month, rings again. Her eyes well up with tears, and above the drone of the air conditioner, she replies in a voice barely audible: "Because they're nurses."

Charles Idelson

Communications Director

California Nurses Association

510-273-2246 (office)

415-559-8991 (cell)

Link to photos

See the Links on the right? Just double click under each photo album to view!

also a few movie clips are here:

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Where did they go?

On Thursday, Sept 15th we had a report of 4500 evacuees still in the Arena.(FYI, all of the evacuees in the Dome and Center were moved to the Arena - even tho- the Arena was cleared out 4 days before because the (Dome had better facilities) Never mind that there was a football game in the stadium that Sunday...(oops, nurses never speak up)
Then Hurricane Rita threatened and "they" loaded our patients onto buses to Arkansas (not-verified report?) Where did our patients go? Anyone track them? I have looked on published reports on the 'net with no luck... These were people with no ability to process (people asked me if there was some educational deficit) NO.. these were people in shock, not able to communicate, not able to process instructions about how to get a FEMA number, register with Red Cross as a missing person..etc... Shock about seeing the dead surround you.
Where did our patients go?

We thought we had it rough: read on

In the Wake of Katrina: A Surgeon's First-Hand Report of the New Orleans Tragedy
Posted 09/19/2005

Scott E. Delacroix, Jr., MD

Federal Emergency Mis-Management Agency (at Least Until Saturday Post Storm, Day 5)

Was in Madisonville, Louisiana, for the storm. Took 2 days to cut out of St. Tammany Parish because of all the trees down.

Wednesday: Post Storm, Day 2
While cleaning up after the storm in Madisonville, I heard Dr. London Guidry (surgery resident at Charity Hospital) put out a call for help over Clear Channel Radio. Decided to leave and try to get into New Orleans. The Causeway Bridge was not open nor was I-10 (Interstate 10) from Slidell into the city. Decided to go to Baton Rouge and then take I-10 in. After multiple, failed attempts, found gas at a Shell station near LSU's [Louisiana State University's] campus and got on I-10. Really wasn't sure where I was going. Rumors abounded about looting and bridges being blown out. Evacuees wandering the city. A levee break and the "bowl filling with water." Decided to try a back way into New Orleans through Destrehan. Got off the I-10 at Laplace and headed to Airline Highway. I met multiple police officers but was wearing scrubs and a white coat. Guess I didn't look like a looter. Laplace police, State police in Norco, and Destrehan police -- no one knew how to get into the city. All communication was down. No army or national guard anywhere. Made it down to Destrehan where Airline Highway was under water and blocked by 3000-lb sandbags. Spoke with a local police officer who had lost everything and was out working security on the highway. Told me to go back to 308 and get back to I-10. The stories of looting in New Orleans had caused everyone to be on the alert. A cop had been shot? All the gun stores had been looted and criminals were heavily armed? I was very nervous driving up to roadblocks with police officers on high alert. I learned that in my old truck in the pitch black with my lights on, every police officer had a gun drawn as I pulled up. I started to turn my lights off about 100 yd prior to roadblocks and turning the lights on in my car. This allowed them to see me in a white coat and alleviated me from breaking out in a sweat every time I had a gun pointed at my driver's seat. With my 38 in my lap, I was now back on I-10 from Highway 308. One more roadblock, and after giving a couple more bottled waters to state troopers, I was on I-10 at Kenner heading into the city. It was eerie. No lights anywhere. No police. No people. Couldn't see anything but what my dim headlights were illuminating -- a complete blackout. As I neared Causeway and I-10, I could see a mass of police cars and people.

I parked my car and walked into a sea of people. It was overwhelming. Helicopters were landing on the Westbound circle and having evacuees walk from the helicopters across the I-10 median, and people were placed behind barricades. Nonambulatory patients in stretchers were being placed on the 2 inside lanes of the inbound I-10. There were about 20 state police officers, 2-3 small trailers, of which one was loaded with medical supplies. As I walked up and viewed the scene, 2000-3000 people on the edge of the Interstate: standing, sitting, or lying down behind barricades. Between them and the highway lanes were barricades and state troopers. Two of the 4 traffic lanes open for passage. The remaining 2 lanes and the inside shoulder of the Interstate were crowded with a site out of a bad dream. Patients were laying on broken gurneys, were laying on cardboard boxes, were laying in the street. Some were extremely old and decrepit appearing -- unable to speak. Nursing homes and hospitals had somehow been evacuated to the I-10 and Causeway Interchange. Patients were laying on the ground and in small cots with their medical charts used as pillows. They numbered in the hundreds. On top of these, evacuees of all ages began to succumb to the elements and horrible conditions in which they were being held. A steady flow of elderly persons with chest pain and shortness of breath streamed across the barricades and into our "triage" area. Children ages 4-6 with seizure disorders began having seizures. Asthmatics and evacuees with emphysema began to come to triage seeking oxygen and respiratory treatment. Dehydration was apparent, especially in the elderly and mentally retarded patients who were laying in the streets. It was myself (a urology resident) and ER [emergency room] resident, Pat Dennis; a neurologist; 2 psychologists; and several nurses (Kelly Tourere and Danny Dickson); and some staff from Acadian ambulance. One FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] official was on the ground and helping to coordinate transportation, although for the first hour there was none. Supplies were very low. I was wiping off ventilation masks and reusing them to save supplies. There were sick people in need everywhere you walked. A highway of patients. The helicopters continued to land. Patients continued to come to our triage with their entire medical charts from whatever hospital they had been in -- a postoperative knee replacement, a postoperative coronary bypass, a mentally retarded nonambulatory lying there in diapers. What was going on in their minds? Someone's mom or dad who earlier had been in a hospital was now in our care lying on a highway. We had 3 oxygen tanks -- people had to wait to receive oxygen therapy. Triage became a 15-second read of a patient's medical chart and allotting people into a general 1, 2, or 3 category for priority transport onto one of the few ambulances. Around 2:00 am, a line of Acadian ambulances arrived to transport ill patients. That was the toughest part -- choosing who goes. "I've been laying here for 24 hours now." "Don't separate grandma or mom from us." I split up families, and sent mom with one epileptic child who had decreased consciousness for the past hour and left the other 3 kids with their 70-year-old grandmother to fend for themselves. There was nothing we could do. One family member with each medical patient. Buses did show up to take the "healthy" patients but short of causing a riot; there was no way to get the women and children or the elderly onto these buses. The weak had given up trying to get onto the buses. The young and strong pushed their way onto the buses without concern for the weak. It was sad to see. I met a gentleman who had recently finished his EMT [emergency medical technician] training -- Nick Pieper. He was bagging a ventilator-dependent cystic fibrosis child whose battery-powered ventilator had run out of juice. The child did end up getting onto one of the ambulances around 3:00 am, but to where I did not know. I spoke with someone who said that FEMA was setting up a hospital at the airport, and some would be going to Baton Rouge. The transport was slow. There was no central command. No definite place for these people. Didn't know how many more were coming, but that they just kept coming -- helicopter after helicopter. Supplies low, one of the psychologists contacted EOC [Emergency Operations Center] or DHH [Department of Health and Hospitals] in Baton Rouge and placed me on the phone to give a description of the supplies that we needed. Pedialyte, formula, oxygen, aspirin, IV [intravenous] sedation, and transportation. This chaos went on into the next morning. There were several bodies placed in the median behind our trailers.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Read on if you can stand it

Thursday Dawn
Thankfully, an overcast morning. People had now been there for 36 hours. I was getting tired of lying to people and telling them to hold on a little longer for a ride. Ambulances and buses were more frequently arriving to transport patients, but again, getting the elderly and large families aboard was problematic considering the pushing and shoving when a bus arrived. One of the volunteers approached me and said that there was a medical convoy that had arrived to help and wanted to know where to set up. I walked about 2 blocks and met Gordon Bergh and the Austin City [Texas] EMS [Emergency Medical Services]. Gordon asked how he could help and where I wanted them to set up. They had a command and control station, 4 ambulances, and 8-10 EMTs. We discussed a plan to set up a triage station on the opposite site of the current one. Now our "hospital" had swelled to encompass both the East and Westbound lanes of Interstate 10. Helicopters still landing. About 3000-5000 people still in our location. I received word that the FEMA official said that they were pulling out. Until this point, FEMA was providing no medical assistance, but they were helping to obtain transportation for these people. The transportation was inadequate to say the least, and now they were pulling out? I approached the official and asked him whether it was true that they were pulling out and if so why. I was told that yes they were leaving, and he was unsure why. His comment was that the decision had been made by "people above my pay grade" as he shrugs his shoulders. Rumor was that shootings in New Orleans had spurred someone higher up in FEMA to pull back. This was ridiculous. We were 1.5 miles outside of New Orleans proper. At that time, we had no security problem. We did not have a security problem until later that day when transportation slowed almost to a standstill. No more FEMA, very little transportation. No coordination. It is Thursday -- 3 days post storm! There was no gunfire at our location. Only people in dire need of medical assistance and transportation. The lack of transportation for the people caused more of them to become medical patients. Dehydration and exhaustion. The FEMA official walked away leaving our crew, the local EMS crew from Austin City, and a mass of people -- patients lying on the Interstate in their own urine and feces. Supplies were still minimal -- oxygen, albuterol, IV fluids. I was rationing 2 bottles of nitroglycerin. No aspirin for ACS [acute cardiac syndrome]. Found the largest bottle of 2 mg of alprazolam (Xanax) I had ever seen -- 500 count. Immediately rolled one up in some cheese from an MRE (Military-issued meal ready-to-eat) and fed a big pitbull that had been scaring patients and myself for the past couple of hours. He went to bed until Friday morning (he was OK). State police were there to keep the general population off the Interstate lanes: about 3000-5000. Every time a bus would pull up to take the general population, the elderly and young would get shoved out of the way, and there was nothing that we or the state police could do without causing a riot. We attempted to put mothers with small children into some of the ambulances, but there were just too many hospital patients.

Triage continued through the day (Thursday) (Figure 1). Helicopters continued landing. We did accomplish to clear out the initial side of patients. With Austin EMS's help, they took over the triage while some of us tried to clean the area. There was trash everywhere. People had urinated and defecated where they lay waiting for transportation. We had cut holes into some of the cloth cots and placed boxes under the holes for sick patients to relieve themselves. It was a mess. This area was something out of a UNICEF [United Nations Children's Fund] commercial.

Figure 1. (click image to zoom)
A small portion of the general public stranded at our triage station during the day on Thursday.

I ran into one of my Charity Hospital patients under the I-10 on Thursday morning. He had been evacuated from an apartment building in midcity with 150 seniors without water. He said they were in dire need of help. We spoke with the air traffic controller (military) and talked with Gordon from Austin City EMS. Coordination between the state police and the communications trailer from Austin was our best asset. Still no FEMA. No transportation and no coordination other than among ourselves on the ground. We were allotted a BLACK HAWK helicopter to fly water into the building. I hate flying. Two EMS technicians from Austin City, 4 state police officers from Houma, Louisiana, armed with AR-15 semiautomatic rifles, myself, Nick the EMT from New Orleans, and the ER doctor from Baton Rouge. Also accompanying us was a news crew from Austin KXAN 36 (an NBC affiliate) with reporter Rich Parsons. Austin City EMS would be pulling out of this area as soon as we returned. Bulletproof vests on, we loaded the chopper with water and MREs and took off. This was the first (and I hope only time) I would be seeing patients with a bulletproof vest, a 38 revolver in my scrub pants, and a white coat with 38-caliber cartridges jingling in my pocket. We flew into the city around 6:00 pm. Amazing site of destruction and flooding. The city where I grew up was under water. We found the building and circled a few times, but could not land on the roof. We landed at a softball field next to Cabrini High School by Bayou Saint John about 2 blocks away. Found a pirogue (a Louisiana flatboat), filled it with supplies, and waded through water about 2-3 ft deep and brought water and MRE's to the Park Esplanade Apartment complex. Triaged the grateful patients and went back to the LZ [landing zone]. Our chopper had taken off, and we were unable to get a lift out. Night fell and we were stranded. The state police officers contacted their commander by radio. Helicopters were no longer landing at night possibly secondary to gunfire. At this time, getting more and more nervous, we started popping glow sticks and laying them in a pattern to call in a chopper. Rich Parsons called into Austin and gave a television phone interview. We heard 3 shots fired from across the bayou. After 3-4 hours and hearing gunfire on the other side of the bayou, a BLACK HAWK finally landed and got us back to the LZ at Causeway and I-10. Nick the EMT and myself couldn't move. It is late Thursday night, and the triage center again has swelled to its prior state. Still no FEMA -- little transportation has these people languishing in horrible conditions. Austin City EMS pulled out and headed to the airport where FEMA was supposedly set up. Nick and I remained at Causeway and I-10 for a couple more hours and had to leave secondary to exhaustion.

St. Theresa's Prayer:

St. Theresa's Prayer:
> May today there be peace within.
> May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
> May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
> May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love
> that has been given to you.
> May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
> Let this presence settle into our bones, and allow your soul the
> freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
> It is there for each and every one of you.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Email from our Nurses

So good to hear from you carole. i am in south beach florida for palliative care confernce. will go to blog when i get home late sunday night. i cant believe houston has to evacuate!! we have "tropical storm " weather here. hope all of you are well. linda pene

I hope everyone made it home safe and sound...I know it was quite a strange first day home for me. A little surreal to be back in the regular routine. I am sending this to those on the posted list from the triage unit in the Reliant Center. Hopefully you can get any e-mail addresses you need from the "sent to" list. If it doesn't come through that way, e-mail me back and I'll write them out differently for you.

Christy Solorio (RN from UC Davis peds)

i am watching houston being evacuated on the news and it just seems surreal. how can this be happening again? what about all those evacuees who had just gotten housing, or the ones still in shelters? what about the red cross and other relief workers who are still deployed?
is anyone thinking about going again after rita hits???

helen hauser (rn from san francisco)

all my fellow CNA nurse friends,

I hope this email finds you all safe and sound in your respective California hometowns. I know that I did not work up close and personal with some of you in Houston, however each and everyone contributed to my personal experience working with the evacuees. I have never been prouder to be a nurse than now! Thank you all for your everyready spirit to help those in need. Each of your beautiful spirits have left an indelible mark on mine!
May you all feel proud of your dedication and committment to nursing, especially during this time of great need!
Blessings to all of you. Take care,
Patricia Salazar(Santa Maria, Ca.)

Kourtney's Story:
It’s why I was put here’ A UCI nurse on duty helping storm evacuees at the Astrodome helps save a baby

Print Text Only
'It's why I was put here'
A UCI nurse on duty helping storm evacuees at the Astrodome helps save a baby who was struggling to breathe.

Orange County Register

HOUSTON …quot; Scraped knees. Runny noses. Insulin shots.

Since Friday, the nurse from Orange County has dealt with routine medical needs while helping Hurricane Katrina evacuees huddled inside the Astrodome in Houston.

She volunteered to go with a group sent by the California Nurses Association, just feeling the need to do something.

Now, after a decidedly unroutine day that included saving a baby's life, Kortney Hyrchuk, 24, knows why she went to Texas.

Early Monday, about halfway through her 7 p.m.- to-7 a.m. shift, Hyrchuk, a neonatal nurse in the intensive care unit at UCI Medical Center in Orange, saw a local nurse rushing toward her with a baby in her arms.

The local nurse had been patrolling the floor, cleaning up vomit or handing out water - nausea and diarrhea still being common ailments among evacuees.

The nurse - Hyrchuk recalled only her first name, Mari - had found the infant lying on her back on a cot, with no adults around.

Mari noticed the girl, just over 1 month old, was barely breathing. Also worrisome, the girl felt cold to the touch.

Mari tried to stimulate the infant but was unable to wake her.

So she scooped up the baby and rushed over to Hyrchuk, the only specialist in neonatal care at the volunteer clinic.

"She was stimulating the baby by rubbing its chest and tickling its feet, but there wasn't a lot of response," Hyrchuk recalled.

She remembered the baby from earlier. The baby's mother had brought her to the clinic, saying her child may have had a cold, but the mother failed to consult with a doctor as recommended.

Now, the mother was playing poker about 50 feet from where her baby had been found, oblivious to the unfolding drama.

Hyrchuk knew the baby needed to be realigned so her airway could be cleared. Her nose was severely clogged.

From her training, Hyrchuk knew to position the baby so her chin was not compressed into her chest, and to hold her up vertically.

She performed a nasopharyngeal suction, using a bulb syringe to clear out her nose.

"I didn't even know we had bulb syringes here," one volunteer surgeon said.

The baby was breathing, but faintly.

"She was still really plugged up," Hyrchuk said. "I found some Neosporin for lubrication and put in on a long tube and sucked more of the (stuff) out of her nose."

Paramedics arrived and Hyrchuk accompanied the baby to Texas Children's Hospital.

"By the time we got there she was screaming her head off," Hyrchuk said.

She said that if Mari had not noticed the baby, the baby would have died from an airway obstruction due to a cold or improper sleeping position.

"People are saying I did something extraordinary, but it was more like something I was trained to do," Hyrchuk said. "I just assessed the problem and did what I was supposed to do.

"People were kind of surprised that I jumped in and I knew what to do. But I am a neonatal nurse."

Hyrchuk returns to Orange County on Friday.

"To me, this experience is why I came on this trip," she said. "It's why I was put here."


Hardesty reported from Santa Ana.
From Christine:

FYI My brother was able to get into New Orleans with his partner (both are pilots) and company on Tues. to check on his cab and his apartment and my father's house. This was his description. it took over 5 hours as he was escorted by local law enforcement, since evacuation was in progress. Attached is his description.


Subject: Hurricane Rita Evacuation and Personal Update Story
Date: Sep 21, 2005 12:30 PM
Wednesday September 21, 2005

Well we go again.

To Preface...

Yesterday, 7 company people and I flew into Houma airport, in haste due to Hurricane Rita. We boarded two smaller aircraft which flew us to Southern Seaplane on the Westbank. From there we drove into New Orleans assisted by Local Law enforcement, which allowed us to assess our personal properties....I was able to tour the entire area....from the westbank we took the chalmette ferry across the Mississippi river over to Braithewae (sp.?) then through Violet and Mereaux. We went to my collgue's (Clate) residence in Mereaux and found destruction not comprehensible, unless seen in person. It looked like a seen out of a movie, surreal, not possible....vehilcles and boats on the tops of houses, whole houses including slabs, moved and blocking roadways.....about a foot of mud inside Clate's house prevented us from getting inside....I broke his front window, armed with only protective clothing, masks and gloves and a side mirror used to brake the glass.....he went inside....note...two major smells i smell of dead flesh/decaying garbage and the other-water/mold decay...unbearable even with a mask....Clate went inside and recovered one box from a desk from his second floor....his house was completely under water.....we then made it to Judge Perez and Paris ave....after being cleaned and watered at a checkpoint with Rhode Island Fire the I-10 Westbound to Orleans View Carre' exit to my father's house in MidCity....the water level could be seen upwards of four feet along the house down orleans ave. to Carrollton Ave.Went to my father's house 4001 Dumaine St and made it inside. Went into his attic, no leaks...his property had water marks up to the second siding board, about six inches from his actual floor....lucky....uptown was fine, the westbank is up and running with supplies, and limited services orleans was a ghost new taxi cab I found on the 5th floor of 901 Fulton parking garage across from the Convention Center....front driver window broken, steering column destroyed and wires hanging down...very thankful...minimal damage...all other vehicles had same looting damage....I was able to jump the battery from the police car and get the motor spinning,but no fire, no problem....left vehicle there for later recovery...not knowing where Hurricane Rita was going to hit, figured it was the safest place, for now...after a rendezvous at the westbank yard, and a drive back to Houma, and flight back to Houston....We began evacuation preparation/planning of Houston.....yesterday...

Today....traffic building as all cities, Galveston and North, slowly move upstate in anticipation of Hurricane Rita's impact late Friday night, Saturday morning on the Galveston hotels available, as it seems, within the whole state of Texas.....I have packed what little things I have, relocated a car onto Hobbly airport parking garage, and packed airplane in anticipation of flight out tonignt/tommorrow morning..... now 2pm. Found out that city officials are expecting possible 5 feet of water in the downtown Houston area depending on the storm surge....hope all affected are taking Rita seriously...

Hope all are recovering successfully....Don't know where I'll be but phone still good 832-620-9392....


Hi Carole,
Great to hear from you and find out that everyone is gradually getting
into their routine. I was thinking if we had stayed another week as
planned, we
would be evacuating ourselves! Those poor people who had to be moved
So glad to hear that Houston and Galveston didn't get slammed as
Good to hear from you. Stay in touch. I will go to the web site as
Thanks for all your work,
Sharon J. Hill

Hi Everyone, I know we are all back home and into our safe day to day routine. I also know, because of our experience in Houston, none of us will be the same again. We have been fortunate and privileged to have been with people at the most vulnerable time of their lives. We were there to be of service to others, but it was a blessing to us to have people trust us enough to share not only their intimate feelings , experiences, and worries, but also their hopes for the future. I'm sure we will all keep in our hearts a treasured moment shared with someone.
These experiences touch us deeply and change us forever. They expand our consciousness to the interrelationship of our social problems and make us aware of our ongoing responsibility to one another; not only at the time of a named disaster. Most of the people we shared time with, live every day with the compounded disasters of poverty, racism, injustice, inadequate housing, poor education, lack of health care etc. Katrina was just another assault on their lives . We cannot forget that.
It was a privilege to have met all of you and together shared the experienced in Houston. Your flexibility, energy, and dedication is admirable. Thank you all, you did a fantastic job!
I look forward to seeing you all again. Betty

Hi Linda, I Went to work finally this past weekend, my nurses are so supportive of the cause! They really enjoyed the picture of you delivering their boxes of stuff. Then they sent 3 more and Sharon and I delivered on Friday. Did you see the pictures of what was left at the Arena? I was told that the Red Cross was going to set up a clinic after we left on Thursday on the second floor and have regular buses take people to the county clinic for treatment. (Was I dreaming?) We returned there on Friday pm and the policeman at the front door said he did not know where the Red Cross medical clinic was located... We went to the second floor and the command center did not know. They went to find the Red Cross command person who said the "clinic" was located in the Arena in Room C. This was the area where the evacuees were located the first night we were there (then moved,) and where they brought the first contingent of "sick and elderly" on Thursday night. Sharon and I showed up with our badges and the Red Cross nurses went out of their minds when they saw us. "Replacements!" "We have been here since 5:30 a.m." (It was now 6 pm) "We are dying"...They did their best to get us to take over their assignment that evening, We told them that we were leaving at 5 am the next morning and our tour of duty was over. Then they reported that patients were being transported by ambulance to the county hospital Emergency Room and it was "overwhelmed." And the County was considering setting up an outpatient clinic there in the hospital to handle the needs. OF COURSE, a few days later our patients (those who were left) were transported to Arkansas in buses to a new "home." I wonder how much support they are receiving now. I feel that we all were a big part of helping to make these victims of a natural disaster to feel that there were caring people there for them, and we hoped that they could get on with their lives and their future, despite their trauma and illness. I won't forget my uselessness as a nurse for their mental stress/illnesses, and remember instead the ability we gave to give hugs, love and hope to all we cared for. I am proud to be a CNA Nurse!

Keep up the tradition of "Nurses having fun" Love you for it!

Carole Rogers
p.s this "clinic" had a 8.5 x 11 " sign on the front wall going into Hall C saying
"First Aid"

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Nobody Knows the Troubles I've seen

The stories are heartbreaking. “No body knows the troubles I’ve seen” a song I sang to myself for the evacuees many times Obviously a great deal of shock and suffering, and we were trying to treat medical problems.

A 21 year old man came in for a refill of his Ambien, saying he could not sleep. “I watched my Sister die as we came out of the roof. Something hit her in the head.” He had an abscess in his left elbow, “A nail in the roof punctured me.” He had experienced a panic attack the previous day, he said. “I was just waiting in line and became very fearful for no reason.” “I don’t know why God did not take me instead – I would have been glad to go.” I tried to reassure him, saying “God has another plan for you.” – to which he agreed…

Another middle aged woman told me that she was on a bridge at the Astrodome for three days; two days with no food or water. “I watched dead bodies pass by in the river below me, including babies. It was something I do not wish anyone to ever see.”

An elderly woman, 71 years old came into the computer center looking for her husband. She was ambulatory, but was using a wheelchair as a walker. Her two sons were sheltered elsewhere in Texas but hasn’t seen her husband since they were separated at the Superdome. They separated men and women at the Dome when put into buses, and this separated many families.

Kourtney, our opera singer and Pediatric nurse found a 5 week old baby on a cot at the Astrodome, that was cold and blue. She took a syringe out of her pocket and suctioned the baby (a syringe, not a bulb) and revived it. “Our Heroine”

Karen Kalua RN was stationed in Gulfport LA at Keesler Air Force Base as a medic in 1981-1985. “This is why I had to volunteer.” Karen goes on: “At first I was negative about joining the effort with California Nurses Association. Karen was part of the CPMC when CAN was part of ANA – but I had the opportunity to sit next to a nurse in the airplane on the way here and I learned about all of the good work that CNA does.”

Karen is a Labor and Delivery Nurse and worked in the OB/Gyn Clinic in the Arena. She work with a Gynecologist who was “the most amazing man I have ever seen.” The doctor kept a log with all of the patients he saw, and when possible did a telephone follow up on all of them. Karen said there was a problem with female infections of all of the women who had been in the dirty water of New Orleans. They cultured all of them, and it is interesting to note that the infections “all had the same distinct smell.” She was worried that the nurses in screening were not detecting all of the female infections, saying that the women were probably changing their underwear every night – and not realizing they had a problem. His name: Todd Ivey MD.

Meet Daniel, his picture is posted on Carole’s photo album. He was a ceramic tile layer who had worked for the same construction company for 35 years. He proudly shows his hands, knobby from his work. His wife and daughter are in hospitals in Dallas – one had to have brain surgery for an object that punctured her skull. His other daughter is with him in Houston and plans to find a home a stay here with his grandchildren. His company has contacted him saying they want him back to help with the construction work needed now in New Orleans. And he has made up his mind to go. Katrina is fracturing families all over the country.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Do You Know What It Means to miss NEW ORLEANS?

William Faulkner’s evocative characterization of elegantly decadent Old
New Orleans was written for the Times Picayune in 1925 as follows:

A courtesan, not old and yet no longer young, who shuns the sunlight that the illusion of her former glory be preserved. The mirrors in her house are dim and the frames tarnished, all her house is dim and beautiful with age. She reclines gracefully upon a dull brocade chaise-lounge,there is the scent of incense about her, and her draperies are arranged in formal folds. She lives in an atmosphere of a bygone and more precious age. And those whom she receives are few in number,and they come to her through an eternal twilight

These were some of my recent thoughts and sadness at the realization that some of the old historic charm and neighborhoods will be demo-ed in my hometown NOLA (most of the City is a historic district.) No one wants Disneyland and strip malls. We know it will come back, the people, food, culture and soul will heal. Home is home. The people will bring the spirit back.

Some humour.Check out the funny riff by Robin Williams at the Wynton Marsalis (his father Ellis taught many of my friends, including Harry Connick Jr., music at NOCCA, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) "Higher Ground" Benefit Concert at Lincoln Center in's very funny. Speaking of Mardi Gras "I got word when the water started to rise: The floats this year will really have to float" at Sept. 17 2005
I still could't figure out how to add a link. I tried.

"Rejoice at the death and cry at the Birth".....Jelly Roll Morten (in the spirit of Jazz funerals)

That's Right I'm Not from Texas....I could not help myself from singing this song. I was very impressed with the spirit and patience, kindness and southern hospitality of the Texans to the displaced people of New Orleans and to us volunteers, from the Texas nurses who came to volunteer after working their shifts(one stayed until 3am to help after working all day), to the kindness of the hotel workers at the Holiday Inn where we stayed. The Texans helped heal a group of people who were feeling so rejected after what they experienced waiting at the Dome and Convention Center. Many will make a new life. That's right!!!!!Here's the lyrics. I love Lyle.
You can hear part of it at

That's Right I'm Not from Texas

Artist/Band: Lovett Lyle
Lyrics for Song: That's Right (partial lyrics)
Lyrics for Album: Live in Texas

You say you're not from Texas
Man as if I couldn't tell
You think you pull your boots on right
And wear your hat so well

So pardon me my laughter
'Cause I sure do understand
Even Moses got excited
When he saw the promised land

That's right you're not from Texas
That's right you're not from Texas
That's right you're not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway

That's right you're not from Texas
That's right you're not from Texas
That's right you're not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway

See I was born and raised in Texas
And it means so much to me
Though my girl comes from down in Georgia
We were up in Tennessee

And as we were driving down the highway
She asked me baby what's so great
How come you're always going on
About your Lone Star State

I said that's right you're not from Texas
That's right you're not from Texas
That's right you're not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway.....

So won't you let me help you Mister
Just pull your hat down the way I do
And buy your pants just a little longer
And next time somebody laughs at you

You just tell 'em you're not from Texas
That's right you're not from Texas
That's right you're not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway

Thank you TEXAS..."Texas is great" as painted by a child from New Orleans....see the photos. Thanks to all of the fun nurses from CNA, our photojournalist Carol, fearless bargainer and troop leader Linda (who cared to worry about me when i was missing and visiting w my brother)and got us to the airport on time and Essie, who volunteered for the "Vomitorium" and worked night shift and drove us around and got sick, Hugs to Reneee and Myrim, for their smiles hugs and support, to Laura who braved her way to Starbucks and met an impostering doctor,to Lisa for your presence and great hair and to Kortney....who worked by my side screening patients in the Astrodome, wheeling vomiting patients and found a sick baby...(still need to hear that story and now you actually sang at the wedding.) Amazing. I was amazed at the nurse volunteers who took it upon themselves to leave their families, drive to Houston, and worked w me in Quarantine, from N. Carolina, Texas and other southern states. Thanks to CNA and Betty for organzing all of this.

Christine Chryssovergis UCSD Nurse from NOLA