Hurricane Harvey

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After Hurricane Harvey flooded her city of Houston in August, Dr. Jennifer McQuade planned to donate socks to those affected. Instead, surprised by the lack of medical care at a nearby shelter, McQuade, an oncologist, became the unofficial leader of a group of physicians and mothers providing emergency aid at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. She triaged patients, solicited donations and recruited more doctors to join.

The Mental Health Impact Of Major Disasters Like Harvey And Irma

Sep 12, 2017
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When major disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit, the first priority is to keep people safe. This process can involve dramatic evacuations, rescues and searches.

As Dr. Ruth Berggren digests the calamity affecting her new home state of Texas, she admits to some PTSD.

In 2005, she was an infectious-disease doctor at Charity Hospital in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, and she became one of a small number of physicians left to care for 250 patients for six days, trapped by flooding and without running water or electricity.

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As Texas recovers from Hurricane Harvey, Floridians may be wondering how well the state could weather a similar storm.

St. Joseph Medical Center is downtown Houston's only hospital, located just down the street from the convention center where thousands of evacuees have been staying since Harvey hit.

As of Friday, some doctors and nurses have been on the clock for almost a full week.

When you're working in an ER during a major natural disaster, nothing is routine. Trent Tankersley, director of emergency services at St. Joseph Medical Center, describes one tense situation after another in the hospital this week.

The state’s blood donation centers are sending resources to Texas hospitals affected by Harvey, now a tropical depression. OneBlood is asking Florida residents to give now.

Thousands reacted this week to a photo of residents sitting waist-deep in floodwaters at an assisted living facility in Dickinson, Texas. The town did not issue a mandatory evacuation order ahead of Tropical Storm Harvey. The photo, and Texas officials' decisions to not evacuate, could have ramifications for emergency plans for Florida’s elderly residents.

In southeastern Texas, about two dozen hospitals remained closed as of midafternoon Wednesday, and several Houston hospitals remain under threat of flooding from nearby reservoirs.

But things are looking up. Some hospitals that had been evacuated have reopened, and others are restoring services they had temporarily suspended. Many never closed at all.

Among the most pressing medical needs facing Houston at the moment: getting people to dialysis treatment.

At DaVita Med Center Dialysis on Tuesday afternoon, nurses tended to dozens of patients on dialysis machines while another 100 people waited their turn. Some were clearly uncomfortable, and a number said they hadn't been dialyzed in four days.

Those delays can be life-threatening.

As floodwaters continue to rise in parts of Houston, health workers are trying to keep people safe and well, though that challenge is escalating.

"The first and foremost thing that everybody's concerned about is just getting folks out of harm's way with the flooded waters," says Dr. Umair Shah, Executive Director of Harris County Public Health, whose own home came under mandatory evacuation Tuesday morning.

As health departments in Texas try to assist people with immediate medical needs following Hurricane Harvey, they're also looking to ensure that those affected can get the prescription drugs they need and stay as safe as possible.

"Our best advice is always to avoid floodwater as much as you can," says Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. "Of course, people have had to be in the water — they haven't had a choice."