i received this e-mail from the cno of biloxi regional medical center (brmc). her words will make you proud to be a nurse, thankful for your many, many blessings and prayerful for the victims of this terrible hurricane. brmc and the hospital where i work are owned by the same company health managment associates.
i apologize in advance for the length of this post, but i think you will be touched by pam's poignant words.
" we just got our e-mail up and running. i hope this actually goes through! it must have been your prayers that saved us. if you came down here and saw first hand the death and destruction on the coast from ocean springs to waveland mississippi, you would see that there is no way, biloxi regional medical center should still be standing!!!!
all of our staff, to the best of our knowledge survived the storm as far as there was no major injury or death. everyone is blessed to be alive.
a large percentage of our staff have suffered catastrophic losses of homes and belongings. many, many, many of us have lost absolutely everything we own, myself included. my home was in an area, in pass christian that is so badly demolished, that the national guard and eoc cannot even get to it yet. some of my pets were in a kennel in pass christian that more than likely no longer exists. everyone continues to put all of the personal loss behind them and tend to the patients, our first priority. it is only in the silence of a broken heart, when alone for a few minutes, or with a trusted co-worker, that the tears flow, briefly and then it is back to business. i do believe that most of the patients do not know the extent of the loss of the healthcare workers that are caring for them. and, they shouldn't know it. it should not be their burden.
you would not believe it here. the city of biloxi has no water, so we have had no water to run our air conditioners. of course we have had mid 90 degree weather. inside, it has to be well over 100 degrees. of course, this also means that we cannot bathe or flush toilets. think of 100 degrees, nobody bathing and no toilets flushing. can you spell "stink?" we must constantly watch the staff for heat exhaustion in addition to watching the patients for the same thing. we have had only generator power, so needless to say, in order to conserve the generator power, there were frequent and extended times that the elevators were not working. (we have 6 floors in our hospital.)
we had been cut off from all outside communication. during the storm, we lost cable, so could not monitor the weather. our eoc radio did not work, the phones went down and the cell phones would work very sporadically. windows in patient rooms started flying in and we had to evacuate the patients out of their rooms and into the hallways. as windows continued to fly in and ceiling tiles were ripped from the ceiling in the rooms where the windows blew in, glass was flying all over the room. we had to try to nail the doors shut, because after a certain time, the broken windows were trying to suck things out of the window.
we then had to evacuate the 6th floor patients to the 1st floor. we no sooner got 38 patients from med surg down to the first floor, when it became apparent that the gulf of mexico was in our hospital loading dock, just about ready to lap over into the er.
things were flying off of our roof, patient rooms were leaking, not really from the roof, but the force of the wind, close to 145 mph, was driving the rain straight through our bricks. water was then seeping down onto the ceiling of the floors below and then that started the whole domino effect of ceiling tiles falling, thing getting ruined by water coming through the ceiling, etc.
when the storm ended, we were all still alive. we didn't have any idea of what it looked like outside of our little world.
we finally were able to start getting in touch with corporate and once that happened and they started getting a list of our needs, things got mobilized really fast. i can say enough about health management associates (hma)! they are busting it, trying to get our every need met!
our sister hma employees are arriving to help and they are a godsend! supplies and ice and fuel and clothes and cigarettes and chocolate and our every need is being seen to! you would just break down and cry if you could see the response from our mississippi division and all of corporate and our sister hospitals!
homeland security is here and there are federal police protecting our er doors. the national guard is here, ndms is here and it is overwhelming to see all of this all in and around our beautiful little hospital.
tonight, for the first time since the storm, we have some air conditioning going. we are not sure how long it will last, but we believe that as we sleep on the floors all over the hospital tonight, we'll get some sleep for the first time. we are running out of food and we do hope that a food truck will reach us tomorrow. it was supposed to have come yesterday and did not make it.
i cannot say enough about the staff of brmc! through the entire 12 hour beating this hospital took, even with moving patients all over this hospital to the best area of safety, one step ahead of the storm, only 1 of our patients had any anxiety. she was a mom with a potential pe, with a 4 day old baby in her arms. that is a tribute to our staff, that the patients never panicked. because the staff never let on how scared they were. they were calm and confident, professional and positive.
it has been and remains, an experience like no other. yesterday evening, i got my first chance to get out of the building and walk around a little bit. it is 100% totally overwhelming. it smells like death and destruction. it looks like someone dropped the big one on us. almost everything is gone or has moved to a new location.
our er and grounds look like a m.a.s.h. unit. there are injured people everywhere! our morgue is filling up. there are not enough shelters for the stranded, hungry thirsty people that are approaching our hospital hourly. we had a young man arrive to our er and die today with a body temp of 108! we have snake bite victims, people who are already septic with vibrio because of 7 hour swims clinging to trees after having been blown out into the storm.
our nurses, doctors, techs, therapists, hma everyone has been fantastic throughout! the commitment and dedication to the great responsibility of caring for the patients in our community that have been entrusted to our care and protection has been evident this week. it is an awesome and humbling experience, to say that i am their chief nursing officer. with a lesser crew, we would not have survived as long as we have. i can't say that i wish this experience on anyone, but i do know that it is and will continue to be a life changing experience.
feel free to share this e-mail with anyone that is interested.
god bless you and thank you for thinking of us!
i'll call when i can!"
Sep 2, '05
OMG! I am crying. What an awful thing to experience. I will continue to pray for those affected by the hurricane.
Sep 2, '05
Thanks for sharing that with us.
Sep 2, '05
My thoughts and prayers have been with these poor people in Biloxi. We were planning to be down in Biloxi next week to look for houses and jobs. Needless to say, to say the trip has been cancelled.
This letter is remarkable; what a staff. My best to your friend.
Sep 2, '05
We salute the staff of Biloxi Regional Medical CENTER!
YOU ARE TRUE AMERICAN HEROES!
Sep 2, '05
God grant me the courage to be able to weather an emergency of a similar nature with the dignity and optimism of those nurses. Talk about courage under fire!