While most people were running away from Hurricane Harvey, a team of nurses from the Christus St. Michael Health System flew into the storm to help others.
With just two hours’ notice, the 13 nurses boarded a plane to San Antonio, arriving shortly before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. Word had spread throughout the health system that patients from around the state were being transferred out of the hurricane’s path into hospitals in the San Antonio area, and they would need more nurses to handle the influx of patients.
By the time the nurses reached the Christus San Antonio Medical Center and Christus Santa Rose New Braunsfel hospital, an additional 70 patients were transferred to these facilities and needed care. One of the nurses, Kelli Thompson, BSN, RN, WCC, SCRN, ended up working the night shift in the MICU with other volunteers. “We helped with admissions, started IVs, cleaned up patients. We did whatever they needed us to do,” Thompson said. “They had patients who were very sick and needed a lot of care.” The MICU had a significant increase in patients, over 150% of its regular capacity. “It was a big difference from what they were used to,” Thompson said.
The volunteer nurses slept in empty patient rooms on cots and hospital beds; flooding concerns meant that they stayed in the hospital for four days straight so they wouldn’t miss a shift. Though the experience was trying, the volunteers felt welcomed by both the patients and the staff nurses. “The nurses who were based there were wonderful and very appreciative of us being there,” Thompson said.
Micah Johnson, MSN, RN, director of nursing at Christus St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta, was also one of the volunteers; for him, the biggest take away was how nurses were able to rally together in a time of crisis and help patients in need.