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Helping the Helpers – Hurricane Katrina Relief

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As I read and responded to Dawn Olsen’s call to donate, I was reminded that I had fallen behind schedule in reporting other ways to help those caught in the storm that was Katrina.

How many of you realize that rescue and healthcare workers don’t benefit from the same evacuation measures in a disaster plan that the rest of the citizens are afforded? Doctors, nurses, and other essential hospital personnel are among the firemen, paramedics, and police that must remain on the scene to tend those in trouble. In the process, they’re often unable to secure their homes or protect their families and/or precious memories from injury, damage, and/or theft. They are also vulnerable to all the same illnesses and injuries their patients face.

From the American Nurses Foundation:

While many organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are collecting funds to assist the Hurricane Katrina evacuees, we have learned that a large number of nurses have also been impacted by Katrina. In response to many requests for a way “for nurses to take care of their own”, the American Nurses Foundation has created the Katrina Nurses Fund. One hundred percent (100%) of all funds donated to the American Nurses Foundation for this fund will be contributed to assist nurses in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Additionally funds will be provided to assist nurses opening their homes for families or evacuee nurses

The Care Fund says:

Hospital employees in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Katrina – some lost everything, yet they continued caring for their patients and neighbors who were ill or suffered injury as a result of the storm.

If you haven’t already donated to relief efforts, or have and are willing to donate more, please consider either/both of these organizations. After all, when you are faced with hospitalization and illness, nurses are the ones who are there for you – 24/7/365, disaster or no disaster. We’re there, we care, and we serve.

Yes, I am a nurse. I worked through the devastating fires that consumed many homes and destroyed lives in San Diego back in 2003. I had families who’d lost homes and loved ones to the flames. I prepared my patients (and their families) for evacuation from the hospital. The whole while, I worried and wondered about my own family, trusting that my sisters, mother, father, ex-husband, and my boyfriend had seen to evacuation preparation. My job was to remain at the hospital despite my thoughts occasionaly wandering home. I know what it’s like to be left behind to face the needs of the community. Like the men and women who remained to care for patients and the community during Katrina, we long for family and home, but believe that our patients are just as important.

Hospitals and medical centers spend a great deal of time preparing for disasters. Earthquake, fire, explosion, chemical spill, terrorism, bioterrorism, tornado, and hurricane scenarios are worked into our disaster manuals. We have drills. We take classes. And, we know our roles. We tend to the patients we already have and prepare for those yet to come. We know that it won’t just be bodies that will be broken and scarred, but minds and hearts as well. Outlying communities prepare in the same manner for overflow.

Those of us who choose a career in healthcare at this level understand our duties and commintment. It’s a choice we make – because we care. It’s what we do.

Please give.

And, if you are a nurse or other medical worker, you can find information about volunteering to help those still in need simply by following the instructions available on the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services website.

Sadly, due to my post-operative state, I cannot join those who head south and join the relief efforts. But I can, and will, educate others on what is needed while I pray for the relief workers’ safety and success in caring for those in need.

Please check out CodeBlog and Medscape Nurse Blogs for tales FROM medical personnel actively caring for Katrina victims.

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About Joan Hunt

  • RJ

    Thanks for this post.

    Dawn’s letter inspired me to donate a few extra bucks to the Red Cross via the link here at BC.org.

    Also, last year when two large hurricanes smashed into Central Florida, I was at work. In fact, I was temporarily living there.

    I work at a hotel, and many of our guests were elderly folks living in trailer parks or with homes on the beach. We all did what we could for them, despite the loss of power. And the whole time, I had no idea what had become of my own house (which was, thankfully, a few miles inland).

    So I have some knowledge of what it’s like to comfort victims of a natural disaster while you are having problems of your own…

  • Dawn

    Excellent information Joanie – people don’t realize that all the money in the world isn’t as important as lending a helping hand.

    I try to always donate blood when I am eligible – and I find donating to worthy causes rewarding, but actually putting your time and effort into helping someone in need is what charity is really all about.

    Maybe there is something here in Cleveland I can do – thanks for the inspiration – and thank you RJ for donating. It all helps!!

  • Hello everyone,

    Just to let you know, my song, Who Are We (Anyway), is now available for download at http://www.hurricanereliefsong.com, and there is a sample that will play when the page opens. The total length of the actual song is 5:25 and the new and improved version, has some hurricane sirens going off in the background in the beginning of the song to bring relevance of the story behind it. I have just signed the contract with the American Red Cross for cause-related relief efforts available to view on the site as well. You can also view the Press Release from a link their as well.

    I commend everyone trying to put forth the effort to help the people in need of relief in the effected areas. It is very sad that even in the wake of events, certain people have to cut a person down for helping with their efforts. I have read some posts, ripping on Michael Jackson for helping, due to what has been going on with his recent events. Whether or not Jackson did what he did, does not make him a bad person for helping out with relief efforts… right? I do have my opinion about MJ and I do have 4 children, but I will choose not to speak it or “lash out” at him for helping with a cause like this.

    I hope and pray all of you never have to go through such a catastrophic event and if you have…wow! If you’ve ever lost anyone to such a tragedy, my heart goes out to you and your family’s both involved and worried! Just be thankful that you still have your life and a breath to breath, seeing it on a cold day should remind us all of it’s creator and just how short and precious life can be. We have never had control of our lives…some of us just have to except that, as hard as it may be, it’s true.

    God bless you all and thank you for all your support. Please let everyone you know where they can download their copy of “Who Are We (Anyway) to help with the relief efforts of our country’s worst super catastrophic events…ever.

    I need all the help I can get with this project! If you have any media contacts or know anyone willing to help, please pass this information on to them. I thank you in advance for all your support. After all, it’s only us who can really make it happen for the children and families in the gulf region still suffering. Thank you for caring…


    John J. McCall