1. As I assume all of you have heard about the flooding in Houston this past week, I thought I might tell you a bit about the part that the nurses played in it.

    The Texas Medical Center, over 30 hospitals in a 3 square mile area was totally flooded. It was one of the hardest hit areas in town. Memorial Hermann hospital, a 550 bed hosptial had to be totally evacuated after it's emergency generators were under 12 (twelve) FEET of water. There was no AC, power or lgihts of any type nor was there any phones. The water system was totally contaminated ( and still is) throught the whole medical center. Those nurses that were there had to stay of course and nurses that were off shift made their way slowly to the hospital and manually vented pt's on vent's for over 12 hours during the evac, then carried them down up to 10 flights of stairs, never once did anyone hear any grumbling about the conditions. They also had to shut down St. Lukes, the home of the Heart transplant and evacuate all their patients as well. during the flooding only 2 hospital were able to take pt's. All through this nurses from other hospitals were coming in to help at the stricken hospitals on their own time. That is team work. Every news cast about it and every doctor interviewed spoke highly of the nurses that handled this DISASTER with grace and PROFESSIONALISM. A FANTASTIC JOB done by nurses. I want everyone to know about this so we all may stand proud of who we are and what we mean to people...literally we mean life or death to them.
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    About Dplear

    Joined: Nov '00; Posts: 900; Likes: 35
    Registered Nurse


  3. by   P_RN
    I want everyone to know about this so we all may stand proud of who we are and what we mean to people...literally we mean life or death to them.
  4. by   Jenny P
    Dplear, this is the type of news that should be on the front of every newspaper and at the front of every nightly news hour there is. Thank you for sharing this with us. Here in the Twin Cities, we heard about the floods, but there was nothing about the hospitals flooding on the news, nor about these courageous nurses who were brave enough to do this for the patients in those hospitals. Thank you for sharing this with us. It does make me feel proud to be a nurse.
  5. by   lesliee
  6. by   Joybug
    I actually did not here about the flooding - my local news is quite insular.

    However, wow!!

    I hope that you have a very public thank you ceremony to which everyone in the community is invited, especially the media. Actually, 3 ceremonies - one for each shift!
  7. by   welvrdogz
    That is a remarkable story and YES, more media attention should have been brought to this. You will always have this memory to carry with you and I'm sure everyone that played a part in this felt very good to be able to make such an impact on so many lives. Bless you!
  8. by   NRSKarenRN
    Per article: 8 persons died at Memorial Herman, all expected.
    From 4 a.m. until Sunday afternoon, by which time all patients were evacuated, doctors hand-ventilated patients.
    Don't think that is accurate as I've never known a doc to bag someone for more than 5 minutes. I hope nurses will tell their heroic stories from this event on this bb and the media. Can't immagine what is was like there for the past week. My prayers for all who were involved.

    Hospital still denies flood-deaths link
    Copyright 2001 Houston Chronicle http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.ht...politan/942883

    The head of Memorial Hermann Hospital maintained Wednesday that six weekend deaths were unrelated to the flooding that crippled the Texas Medical Center, but the survivors of at least one patient were skeptical.

    As Chief Executive Officer James Eastham acknowledged two more deaths than the four reported Tuesday, the son of 72-year-old truck driver Charles Brunkenhoefer said he was under the impression his father would survive.

    Eastham and hospital Medical Director Dr. Steve Allen described the six patients as critically ill patients close to death.

    "It was anticipated that he was going to be alive," said James Brunkenhoefer, a national lobbyist for the United Transportation Union.

    Brunkenhoefer said the family has received no information from Memorial Hermann about the time and circumstances of his father's death. "We got surprised.

    "I find it real disappointing that at this point they want to hold press conferences about what they didn't do and not even communicate with us about what they did. My mother is upset because she doesn't know anything."

    James' mother, Wilma Brunkenhoefer, said doctors had indicated her husband had a good chance of surviving.

    Allen said it was obvious from Brunkenhoefer's medical records that his was a "hopeless case." He said that Brunkenhoefer had multiple organ failure, particularly kidneys and lungs, and finally died because he couldn't get oxygen into his blood.

    "I'm not privy to the discussions between Brunkenhoefer's family and doctors, but my review shows his chances of surviving were very low, if that," said Allen. "Before Friday night, doctors had gone up and up and up in ventilator support and even tried inhaled nitric oxide, treatment of last resort, and he continued to deteriorate. This was not a healthy man abruptly deteriorated Saturday morning."

    James Brunkenhoefer said "there may be a relationship" between the outage and his father's death. Brunkenhoefer died Saturday at 6 a.m., two hours after Memorial Hermann lost emergency power (main power went out for seconds at 1:40 a.m. before emergency generators took over).

    The two new deaths acknowledged Wednesday by Memorial Hermann occurred soon after the patients were transferred -- one at Ben Taub early Saturday morning and one at Memorial Hermann-Katy probably Saturday afternoon. The three other deaths occurred at Memorial Hermann Saturday at 3:15 a.m., 3:55 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

    Of those five deaths, one involved a 63-year-old male head-trauma patient whose family had approved the withdrawal of life support; an 88-year-old male heart patient whose family had instructed doctors not to attempt resuscitation if he went into cardiac arrest again; and a 62-year-old liver-disease patient whose family was planning to take him home to the Middle East to die.

    The two other deaths involved a 42-year-old man who before being transferred to Memorial Hermann had inhaled his vomit during a seizure, triggering a lung condition that is usually fatal; and a 7-month-old extremely premature infant who never made it out of intensive-care and whose lungs never developed and stiffened and scarred.

    Eastham said he was adamant that all six deaths were unrelated to the flooding, power outage and problems that followed, and evacuation of patients.

    "These were patients in the last stages of life for whom death was imminent and expected," said Eastham. "Their deaths happened to occur during the outage, just as we had two deaths of critically ill patients Friday night before the flooding."

    Eastham said that after the power went out, there was never a point at which any of the patients who died were not receiving hand ventilation.

    Eastham said since Jan. 1, Memorial Hermann has averaged nine deaths a night on weekends (Friday night through Sunday). He said the fewest weekend deaths was six and the most was 13. Counting Friday's two pre-flood deaths, last weekend's total was eight.

    Harris County Medical Examiner Dr. Joye Carter supported Memorial Hermann's contention the deaths were unrelated to the flood. Memorial Hermann sent four bodies to the medical examiner's office when they ran out of storage.

    Carter said Wednesday her inquest into the deaths showed they weren't caused by any disruption of services and weren't "unexpected" given the severity of the injuries and illnesses.

    Her conclusions, based entirely on medical records, were rendered Tuesday, the same day she got them from the hospital at her request.

    Asked if complications from lack of electricity might have speeded up the deaths, Carter said that was hard to determine, but "I doubt it."

    An autopsy was conducted on Clifton Brown, 63, of Victoria, who died of blunt trauma to the head after being transferred to Memorial Hermann by helicopter. It was his family that approved the withdrawal of life support.

    Carter said she saw no need for autopsies on any of the other bodies, nor have survivors or Memorial Hermann requested any. She said her staff became involved with the deaths because Memorial Hermann's apparently were the worst and none of the other Medical Center hospitals sought her agency's help storing bodies.

    Marshall Heins, Memorial Hermann's vice president for construction, engineering and support services, said the hospital will take steps to prevent future flooding of such historic proportions. He said devices connecting underground cables providing Reliant HL&P electricity to second-floor emergency generators will be relocated from the basement to the second floor, an operation he estimated will cost in the neighborhood of $15 million to $20 million.

    Heins said the hospital would appreciate financial assistance from FEMA but will fund the relocation internally if not. He said it would begin immediately and take six to 12 months to complete. He said Memorial Hermann will add extra precautions in the meantime.

    Heins said the hospital could have placed the devices above ground originally, but building consultants told them at the time that it wasn't necessary under their 100-year flood preparedness plan. He said the weekend's flooding turned out to be a 200- to 300-year flood, emphasizing the flood's rarity and extreme nature.

    The improvements will come too late for James Brunkenhoefer, who said he "assumed what every being would have assumed -- that they had (electricity) backup."

    He said his dad was in relatively good health, before he underwent surgery to remove his gall bladder at Mid-Jefferson County Hospital in Nederland and before complications set in and his condition deteriorated, causing him to be transferred to Memorial Hermann May 27.

    He said the only hospital staffer who has spoken to the family so far was a chaplain who did not have medical information.

    "I did not hear them (the hospital) express any concern for the families," said the son, an only child. "The only thing I heard was denial of responsibility."