Friday, September 26

Darwin IS dead. That's why.

This was sent to me via email, but is worth posting:
Nurse's Point of View on Evacuation Shelters during Gustav
Personal insight to hurricane evacuation centers
Wednesday, September 10 2008
Sherri Hagerhjelm, RN, volunteered her time to help Gustav evacuees at the shelter in Shreveport , La.   During her volunteer hours she was required to be escorted by a National Guardsmen armed with an assault rifle to ensure her safety.  In a letter to the editor of a south Louisiana newspaper, Hagerhjelm offers a unique perspective on evacuation centers:
Dear Editor,

I am a nurse who has just completed volunteer working approximately 120 hours as the clinic director in a Hurricane Gustav evacuation shelter in Shreveport , Louisiana over the last 7 days.  I would love to see someone look at the evacuee situation from a new perspective.  Local and national news channels have covered the evacuation and "horrible" conditions the evacuees had to endure during Hurricane Gustav.  
True - some things were not optimal for the evacuation and the shelters need some modification.
At any point, does anyone address the responsibility (or irresponsibility) of the evacuees?
Does it seem wrong that one would remember their cell phone, charger, cigarettes and lighter but forget their child's insulin?
Is something amiss when an evacuee gets off the bus, walks immediately to the medical area, and requests immediate free refills on all medicines for which they cannot provide a prescription or current bottle (most of which are narcotics)?
Isn't the system flawed when an evacuee says they cannot afford a $3 copay for a refill that will be delivered to them in the shelter yet they can take a city-provided bus to Wal-mart, buy 5 bottles of Vodka, and return to consume them secretly in the shelter?
Is it fair to stop performing luggage checks on incoming evacuees so as not to delay the registration process but endanger the volunteer staff and other persons with the very realistic truth of drugs, alcohol and weapons being brought into the shelter?
Am I less than compassionate when it frustrates me to scrub emesis from the floor near a nauseated child while his mother lies nearby, watching me work 26 hours straight, not even raising her head from the pillow to comfort her own son?
Why does it incense me to hear a man say "I ain't goin' home 'til I get my FEMA check"  when I would love to just go home and see my daughters who I have only seen 3 times this week?
Is the system flawed when the privately insured patient must find a way to get to the pharmacy, fill his prescription and pay his copay while the FEMA declaration allows the uninsured person to acquire free medications under the disaster rules?
Does it seem odd that the nurse volunteering at the shelter is paying for childcare while the evacuee sits on a cot during the day as the shelter provides a "daycare"?
Have government entitlements created this mentality and am I facilitating it with my work?
Will I be a bad person, merciless nurse or poor Christian if I hesitate to work at the next shelter because I have worked for 7 days being called every curse word imaginable, feeling threatened and fearing for my personal safety in the shelter?
Exhausted and battered,

Sherri Hagerhjelm, RN


Not So Anonymous Michelle said...

Wow, I can see why this nurse would be so frustrated! If that's really what goes on, that's SO sad and messed up!

gretty said...

Great post. A lot of people learned how to work the system from the Katrina debacle. Humans, in general, suck.

Diana said...

I worked at a Gustave mega shelter in Shreveport for 10 days straight. The conditions were pretty bad. About 1/3 of the toilets didn't flush, most of the showers did not drain or lacked warm water, and often the juices were either hot or frozen.

I walked amongst 1200 people all day, every day. Expressions of "Thank you" were exceed only by demonstrations of gratitude. These wonderful natives of 'Nawlins' teased me about my 'Joisey' accent and spoke like Tony Soprano better than I could.

They packed sandbags, helped police the toiletries tables, made coffee, and swept floors. I received many invitations to visit New Orleans under better circumstances.

My experience was so powerful, I served at a subsequent shelter for Hurricane Ike right afterwards, and followed that by a stint at a remote feeding station somewhere near the border with Texas. I loved just about every moment, and enjoyed every bit, even the little miseries.

I encourage anyone who is willing, to volunteer for organizations like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, AmeriCorps, or other fine organizations. Than you can find for yourself that God in every man.