By Debra Burbridge
HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division
Rallying the troops took on new meaning during the devastation of Hurricane Harvey when the HCA Healthcare System brought in more than 200 nurses from around the country via helicopter to help relieve overworked staff on the ground in facilities around the hard-hit Houston area.
Almost 100 of the nurses were NICU specialists, coming to the aid of The Texas Woman’s Hospital of Texas, which delivers the most number of babies in the state annually. Nurses also were airlifted from HCA’s Conroe Regional Medical Center to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, Mainland Medical Center, Pearland Medical Center and Houston Northwest Medical Center.
One of these was Laura Perdue, RN, BSN, and ED Director of Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Florida. Perdue was airlifted to Mainland Medical Center in Texas City, Texas.
“When I heard about the opportunity to help HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division hospitals in Houston, I was proud to jump at the opportunity to serve. I speak for all the nurses that have come to provide aid when I say that I’ve been overwhelmed by the graciousness of our HCA Healthcare family,” said Laura. “All of my colleagues and I each feel so honored to be nurses and that we can help our fellow healthcare professionals in Houston. It’s amazing to see how Hurricane Harvey has brought everyone together in a time where our nations been divided.”
Nurses, some of whom had been on duty for 40+ hours, were delighted to see these professionals show up and “suit up” to support them and their colleagues. In addition to the physical demands of the situation, many of these dedicated individuals experienced flooding in their homes and apartments and couldn’t check on loved ones. HCA Healthcare was committed to deploying nurses to Houston where they were most needed.
“It was quite a sight to see these wonderful healthcare providers show up to support us, said Kelli Nation, HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division Chief Nursing Officer. “We are so grateful for the time these nurses are spending away from their own patients and families to help us in Houston. This is what the nursing profession is truly about—caring for others.”
Hurricane Harvey is now on record as producing the most rainfall from a single storm in the continental United States. In the greater Houston area rain gauges measured as much as 51.88 inches, more than the combined totals of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Sandy of previous years combined. The torrential downpours made transportation virtually impossible for five days, meaning that the doctors, nurses and staff were isolated in place and could not be relieved by team members who also were stranded.
Troy Villareal, CEO of HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division added, “The relief that these volunteer nurses provided ensured the health and safety of not only our patients, but our own team members as well. These individuals are living proof that the daunting challenge of storm recovery is much easier when you have trusted colleagues to rely on.”
Recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast are expected to continue for months to come.