ED Physicians: How to Volunteer

From the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)

A number of emergency physicians have contacted ACEP to ask how they can assist in relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina. ACEP is contacting state and federal agencies to inquire about specific needs for assistance and will continue to post information as it becomes available.



From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

“Every DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team) team in this country is deployed,” said FEMA spokesman Marty Bahamonde. A dozen of the 35-person teams have been treating victims in tents at Louis Armstrong International Airport, just outside New Orleans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dispatched 140 people, while the Department of Health and Human Services has more than 700 people on the ground.

The unprecedented effort to provide care to tens of thousands of people has required millions of dollars, improvised medical techniques and, in at least one case, theft by a physician who persuaded local police to help him snatch medications from a pharmacy. For one full week now, doctors have worked in MASH-style surroundings, leaning over patients on flimsy military cots, flipping through textbooks to make sense of symptoms they have never seen before.

“I’m a pathologist,” said Greg Henderson, a physician who moved to the New Orleans area two weeks ago. Roaming the streets of downtown in his surgical scrubs, Henderson was suddenly confronting rashes and illnesses he hadn’t seen since medical school. Armed with a Physicians’ Desk Reference – the pharmaceutical bible – and the stolen medicines, he administered to the sick and dying in a hotel lobby and the corridors of the city’s convention center.

Thousands – including infants, elderly and patients with existing health problems – literally sat in the sun for days with no food, water or medicine. “They basically start to rot alive,” Henderson said as he led one group of ill people to McNabb’s military helicopters.

Many landed on the track field of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. In an arena and an adjacent field house, volunteers from Illinois, New Mexico and the federal Public Health Service Commissioned Corps staffed an 800-bed hospital, making the gymnasium the largest acute care facility in the state.

Mobile ER, Update

A follow up to a September 4th blog, also excerpted from the Charlotte Observer:

After some bureaucratic delays, the mobile hospital that left Charlotte Friday to help victims of Hurricane Katrina began operating late Sunday in the parking lot of a demolished Kmart in Bay Saint Louis, Miss., about 60 miles east of New Orleans.

Doctors and nurses from Carolinas Medical Center and other N.C. hospitals treated about 85 to 100 patients Monday, relieving the storm-damaged Hancock Regional Hospital, said CMC spokesman Scott White, who is traveling with the crew.

Most of the patients reported minor problems, such as dehydration, cuts and bruises. A few trauma victims were treated after an automobile crash, White said.

“It’s filthy here,” White said by cell phone Monday. “The storm surge left all kinds of stuff.”

For example, he said, before the crew could convert its two 18-wheel tractor-trailers into the mobile hospital, it waited for front-end loaders to clear the parking lot of cars that had been deposited there during the hurricane and flood.

Communication with government agencies has been difficult, White said, but “once we caught up with the right guy,” the hospital was assigned to Bay Saint Louis.

The mobile hospital, called Carolinas MED-1, was designed by Dr. Tom Blackwell, a CMC emergency physician and coordinator of the relief effort. MED-1 was built with a grant from the Office of Homeland Security. It travels in a convoy that includes the two tractor-trailers that convert into a 100-patient hospital, complete with operating rooms.


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