Iowa ED Physician Headed to Louisiana

From the Sioux City Journal

DES MOINES (AP) — Dr. Matt DeHaven was busy packing Friday, running through possible scenarios in his head as he prepared to head to Louisiana to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“I’ll do what I can and trust my training,” said DeHaven, an emergency room physician at Iowa Methodist and Lutheran hospitals. “I’m one person and I’ll do what one person can.”

DeHaven is one of a team of about 30 Iowa health professionals being sent to the Gulf Coast by the state Department of Public Health to help hurricane victims. Members of the team are doctors, nurses, paramedics and environmental health specialists. They come from all across the state, from Dubuque County in the northeast to Woodbury County in the northwest.

Members were recruited from several state Disaster Medical Assistant Teams created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The hurricane team was scheduled to leave Des Moines early Saturday morning for Baton Rouge, La.

From there, members will be sent to various work locations.

DeHaven admits he doesn’t know what to expect.

He’s seen the images on television. He’s read the newspaper. But he’s never experienced such devastation and human loss before.

“I know it’s bad,” he said.

As his children, Peter, 10, and Catie, 14, helped him pack bottled water, a sleeping bag and mosquito netting, DeHaven said he was feeling a little trepidation about heading into the disaster zone.

His concern isn’t about his, or the team’s ability to do their job. It’s about their personal safety, a concern echoed by his wife, Karen.

“People are so desperate right now that they’re taking it out, it appears to be, on even the people who are coming in to help them because they weren’t there soon enough,” she said.

DeHaven and his family plan to stay in daily contact, as much as possible, but they realize that may be difficult until phone service is re-established in many areas affected by the hurricane.

Peter DeHaven said he is “kind of nervous” about his dad going away for two weeks, but realizes his dad is going somewhere where his help is desperately needed.

Matt DeHaven said he could end up working in a clinic or caring for patients in a hospital or other setting. He could be called on to help carry sand bags.

DeHaven said he is prepared for the possible toll on his emotions.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” he said.

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