CA CNA Katrina Volunteers

This is the link to a public photo album

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"


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