CA CNA Katrina Volunteers

This is the link to a public photo album

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Nurses' Viewpoint

The entire medical triage system works efficiently, except if you need to make exceptions (like no medical record; or someone needs to be seen immediately.)
See the system works like this: you show up with your illness and wait (not too long at this time) Last week according to Tina and Brian they had people passing out in line with vomiting and diarrhea as a common occurance. They processed 150 people an hour and it was total chaos. We were lucky to see 50 an hour? Pre-screening includes a public health worker that needs to ask pertinent questions about your exposure to TB, HIV, Hepatitis; evaluate your medical condition in terms of any communicable diseases that may be hazardous for the entire population. People in closed quarters are always at risk; especially those with exposure to dirty water and foreign objects that puncture the skin underwater. This was a major concern - lots of cellulitis going around. I had one 16 year old patient brought in by her father; she had been treated the day before with wounds on her lower legs. He said she had been walking in the water with rubber boots which overflowed over the tops and left her feet wet with contaminated water for a long time...Today her legs were red, hot and inflamed despite the incision and drainage done the day before. She was not running a fever, but we all know that we need to stay on top of this. She had been given tylenol which may have masked a fever. The only reason this young girl was being treated was because her family trusted our medical system to take care of her and I pray that she has healthy legs tomorrow. This is not always the case. Most of the people/families we saw are poor black people with very few resources. And they did not have a car to get out of town when the call came out to evacuate the city. Nor were there any buses running to take them anywhere with any destination. The only thing I can say is that the horror of losing your family member andor your neighbor is a nightmare you wont want to live again. I interviewed people who were in water "up to their arm pits for four days" before being rescued. Look at them in the eye and ask "what is your medical problem?" "Do you have any cuts or bruises on your body?" Many people brought in their babies because they "itched all night." This was not a insect bite; they were exposed to caustic chemical irritants and who knows what the long run answer may be.

Then there are the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome patients you will all see on your doorstep - only waiting to introduce itself. Today we had many people with high blood pressure; despite taking medication. So you say "You have had a major trauma in your life; and this is causing your blood pressure to be so high." We have mental health team; they should be handing out their business cards with a "talk to me" logo to 90% of the survivors. Fortunately we can triage to medical and to mental health at the same time. Unfortunately, they lose their medical chart- even though we write a sticky note to "send to mental health after this visit" ..... I had several times to look into the eyes directly and say "Mama - you have suffered. We have help here to deal with suffering. You should let me take you to them so you can talk about what happened to you."

Dr. Silvers: I had an infectious disease MD come to the center to volunteer. Little did I know that he was from New Orleans, homeless, and out of business. Because I could not get any answers from Adult Medicine about their need for this specialty; I introduced him to the "poopys scoopy" clinic. (Nurses later named it the "vomitorium.") Norvo or Norwalk virus (the cruise ship disease} has taken over all the centers.

Did I tell you that there are/were four centers in this complex? The Astrodome was the first "accomodation"; then they sent people with "overflow" to the Reliant Stadium; and here we are in the Reliant Arena. Then there is a "Brown" Convention Center where more are living. We oriented Wed. night; a few went to work that night; 7 out of 15 volunteered for the 12 hour night shift the next day. The hard core dedicated nurses here to make a difference understood the light duty nurses (like me) who have never worked nights in their lives. I am amazed. What a team. The Arena was "evacuated" overnight from our first night of orientation until we arrived the next 7 am. (Where are the people who were sleeping here last night? Answer: "They were moved to Reliant Center where accomodations are more comfortable
A patient told me they escorted everyone over there in the middle of the night; he finally said he laid down to go to sleep at 2am. There are large halogen like lights in the Center and the Dome that stay on all the time, how to people sleep? Then the stadium loud speaker blasts out (Joe Blow please report to section 220). The first night I was in the Dome, there was an annoucement "If anyone wants to relocate to West Palm Beach Florida, Reverend (Name)is here and has 8 homes available and jobs for the families. Go to section 334 to meet him now."

Cool, huh? More later
Carole Rogers


At 1:17 PM, Blogger Trande said...

I am so proud to be a CNA nurse so I can tell others that you are my colleagues and members of my union. You have incredible hearts and spirits. Thanks from all of us that can't be there for letting patients and their families know and never forget that RNs care and our place is always with them IN THE TRENCHES wherever that may lead us. Keep these pixs and stories coming. Trande Phillips RN

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