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                                       politics + culture

Thursday, September 01, 2005

9-W has a heart - Katrina can't tear it apart

The New York Times has a story which features Kiersta Kurtz-Burke, who is one of the doctors who stayed with patients awaiting evacuation at Charity Hospital in New Orleans:

The lights are down, which means that medication must be rushed through sodden hallways by flashlight after dark. The ventilators are down, which meant that, for a while, nurses had to pump the airbags of pulmonary cases by hand.

There are few phones. No x-ray machines. No CAT scans. No computers. No air-conditioners.

The lab is down, which means that if a patient has an infection, physicians must determine how serious it is by using their sense of smell.

"In a lot of ways, we're functioning as if we were in a developing country at this point," said Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke, a physician at the hospital, reached yesterday on one of its few working land lines."We're doing the best we can, but it's a new experience."{...}

Dr. Kurtz-Burke said the main goal now was to keep patients stable until the National Guard finished its evacuation of the hospital. That began on Tuesday, she said, with some patients lowered down stairs on spine boards, still hooked up to IV lines or oxygen tanks, in the dark.

The only power was from batteries, she said. The emergency room was moved from the soaked first floor to the second Tuesday morning. Amazingly, the hospital kitchen was open but was serving only things like cold canned ravioli and soup.

Nonetheless, morale was good, Dr. Kurtz-Burke said. There were inflatable mattresses in storage rooms to nap on, and plenty of peanut butter and cornflakes to go around. The infectious-disease unit, on the ninth floor of the west wing, even hung a banner in defiance of the storm.

"9-W has a heart - Katrina can't tear it apart," it said.

There's really not much more to say than that.

Donate: If you want to give to an organization that will be there for the long haul, ie. years, in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast, an organization that has strong ties to the region, then please, consider Catholic Charities. I have direct experience with them. They don't push religion...and they do make long term strategic commitments that directly help the poorest of the poor. If a religion-based charity is not your thing, try here for more options.


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