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September 1st, 2008
08:11 PM ET

Doctors and nurses pass Gustav's test

Three years ago this New Orleans nurse cared for patients during Katrina. She decided to volunteer again for Gustav
Three years ago this New Orleans nurse cared for patients during Katrina. She decided to volunteer again for Gustav

Matt Sloane
CNN Producer

It has been a long day here at Tulane Medical Center, but luckily, boredom, rather than chaos, is the reason.

I arrived at the parking deck this morning at 5 AM, and everything was relatively calm. By six o'clock, it was starting to get a little windy and rainy. I was gearing up to weather a monster category 3 storm embedded in the hospital.

But the storm came, and went. The biggest issues we've had here all day - a minor water leak on the upper floors, no Starbucks coffee in the cafeteria and one downed tree.

But what if the storm had materialized into a monster? Would Tulane Medical Center have been ready?

Absolutely, says Dr. Bob Lynch, the hospital's CEO.

"A lot of coordination, a lot of planning has gone into getting ready for hurricanes after Katrina. People really understand the need for being prepared down here."

The plan, he told me, was to get as many patients and staff members out as possible before the weather got bad. They succeeded, keeping only 67 patients and a few dozen staff in the building.

Those brave staffers like pediatrics nurse Nicole Hammons – many of whom worked 96 hours straight after Katrina – risked their own personal safety again. They chose to let their own families go on ahead without them, while they stayed here to mind the farm.

"This is what I went to nursing school for," she said. "My family is in Atlanta with my sister, they’re doing fine. I'm confident that they’re safe, and that allows me to take care of these patients that’s a little less fortunate than my kids."

We saw the flood-resistant walls around the generator. We saw the ambulances lined up outside. We saw a staff of highly courageous emergency room staffers at the ready.

Luckily, Tulane didn't need any of those things this time around. Let's hope they don't for a very long time.


Filed under: Hurricane Gustav
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Nellie vanderwart

    Just wondering how you arrive at the names for the storms

    September 1, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  2. Franky

    Just as long the hospitals are cool and the patients. I just don't want the last thing for them...

    Ohh and hey Dennis, just go to the ticker and do your thang there! That's what I do! LOL!!!

    September 1, 2008 at 9:46 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    I'm glad that the hospitals used the lessons learned in Katrina and were more ready for this hurricane. It sounds like mostly that this applies to Louisiana as a whole which is commendable, but the hospitals being ready gives me more assurance than anything. Hopefully Gustav won't have a surprise as it leaves and flooding, if any, will be at a minimum. I also hope that NOLA doesn't get another storm of this scale or Katrina's scale for about 100 years.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 1, 2008 at 8:52 pm |
  4. Dennis

    If Governor Palin knew that her daughter was pregnant and accepted the offer to run as vice-president then it shows how insensitive she is as a mother to want to subject her young child to such public scrutiny. It would be bad for an adult much less a child. This not what good leadership is made of. It shows McCain's obvious lack of sound judgement in choosing her. But what else is expected if you to meet someone once and then select then on the second meeting for the second highest critical job in the Country and possibly the world?

    I do not beleive the McCan knew about the pregnancy before but now he is saying he did to avoid the perception of bad judgement.

    September 1, 2008 at 8:44 pm |

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