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Calling All Hurricane Sandy Nursing Stories

October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, October 28/ NASA photo

AJN‘s offices in Manhattan remain closed today, with no subway service and various continuing power outages in many areas where the staff live in New Jersey, Manhattan, and other surrounding areas. We’re all keeping up as well as we can with our production and editing processes. Meanwhile the presidential election, sure to have a substantial impact on health care in the U.S., creeps ever closer. Please let us know in the comments section any stories you have of nurses and their experiences during Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath. Or share photos. We’d love to get a sense of how it went for nurses out there who were affected by the storm, and we hope to provide open access to some of our disaster care and preparedness articles in the next couple days.

AJN Oct. cover, detail

The editors

3 comments

  1. I posted this on my blog (NurseGail.com) recently and thought it might make a nice contribution.

    I was a volunteer nurse at a grass-roots urgent care clinic in Rockaway Beach during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Here are 5 things that I learned:

    1. The national Hurricane Sandy relief organizations are focused on New Jersey, not New York.

    Because tourism is New Jersey State’s second largest source of revenue, it is imperative to restore the Atlantic shore as quickly as possible. If the State of New Jersey goes bankrupt, there could be far reaching effects felt by every American. If you want to specifically help New Yorkers right now, donate to a local cause.

    2. Pharmacies are closed during disasters.

    Rockaway pharmacies were without power and even if they had a generator, their computers were down and unable to track patient records and insurance information. Stores of medication had been destroyed by flood water and employees were dealing with their own losses while road closures, subway repairs and gas rations made getting to work impossible. For the rare pharmacies that did remain open, there were no incoming deliveries to replenish bare shelves.

    3. Anesthesiologists are underrated.

    Anesthesiologists have long been my favorite specialty of doctors because of their laid back and non-competitive attitudes. But volunteering at a grass-roots clinic run by an anesthesiologist reminded me how much they know about multiple areas of medicine if not life itself. They organized volunteers, performed I&Ds, prescribed inhalers, gave vaccinations, delivered coffee, and wiped tears.

    4. Not everyone is a drug seeker.

    In my hospital and clinic work, I frequently interact with highly manipulative and belligerent patients who bully me in an attempt to gain access to narcotic pain medication. In Rockaway, I met several patients who wanted nothing more than a single dose of ibuprofen for pain. They asked for what they needed and nothing more. It renewed my faith in humanity.

    5. Hurricane Sandy is far from over.

    Electricity is not expected to be restored in the Rockaways until after Christmas. With cold temperatures and mold from flood damaged homes, respiratory problems are going to plague the community. Injuries from ambitious DIY homeowners and volunteers taking on construction projects will also continue to rise.

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  2. I want to shout out the nurses at Visiting Nurse Service of NY in Staten Island especially. Starting Sunday they started seeing patients early so they could see the essential patients on Monday and Tuesday during the height of the storm. As you know Staten Island was hit very hard. Our nurses rode around on almost empty tanks and continued to provide care the rest of the week and beyond to the residents of S.I. Phones were not working 90% of the time so they drove by homes to check on their patients. One nurse almost walked into a live wire. Some left their own devastated homes to see their patient. My highest honor is to them. As a manager there, it is a honor to serve with them.

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  3. At Montefiore Medical Center, more than 150 nurses, physicians and other staff slept at the hospital on Monday night during the hurricane. One team in particular, the Dialysis unit at Montefiore’s Weiler hospital, slept at the unit so they could be available for both their inpatients and for those arriving by ambulance the next day. Yolanda Magistrado, RN, Patient Care Coordinator, came in on Monday morning at 5:45 am and brought a change of clothes to stay the night. She finally went home at 6 pm the following day. Three nurses, one secretary and two physicians also slept in the unit, on stretchers and chairs. Feve Luciano, RN, left her school-age children at home with her husband who didn’t have to work and was able to take care of the kids. They all wanted to be there for their patients, especially the ones who need dialysis early in the morning. They were able to start dialysis by 6 am on Tuesday. “It was the first time in my 23 years here that our inpatients didn’t complain about being woken up and brought in so early for dialysis!” Ms. Magistrado joked.

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