Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Interesting Letter from Don Chandler, UHMS Exe. Dir. re Hurricanes

To all--

Now that I have returned from some required travel I want to pass to you what I have learned in the way of an update from the hurricanes our southern tier of states have suffered. I have learned that:

1. Keith Van Meter's house was burgled four times. It was clear that the burglars would drop some of the loot they had stolen from department stores if they found something of Keith and Mary's house that they liked more. As a result of the thug's M.O., Keith and Mary now have several dolls still in the paper and cellophane box in which the dolls were shipped. Evidently, the thieves had only so much room to carry their loot and they would replace it from time to time with with what they considered better loot. Automobiles in the gated community where Keith and Mary live were vandalized with what appeared to be sledge hammers. All things considered, their home weathered the hurricanes well.

2. Week before last in New Orleans, a FBI agent died of CO poisoning from a portable generator...so sad to know that this is still happening. Next we will be hearing of deaths from the misuse of portable power washers.

3. Week before last in Beaumont Texas, a family of five died from CO poisoning from a portable generator.

4. There have been over 30 cases of CO poisoning treated in New Orleans since Katrina.

5. Through this terrible storm, Charity hospital in New Orleans stayed high and dry except for the basement. With some help from a contractor, they pumped 4.1 million gallons of water from the basement of Charity...included the tunnel to Tulane! Only after the pumping was finished and much speculation as to where all the water was coming from, did they realize that they were also pumping Tulane AND Charity dry!

6. After the storm there were 1,200 patients and staff trapped in hospitals in New Orleans. At Charity there were 250 staff and 250 patients. The patients at Charity could have been evacuated before the levies collapsed, as was a hospital not far from Charity, but it was day six before they could get their patients out...and then under sniper fire from a parking garage down the block (Special Forces went in at night and cleared out the snipers.). At Charity, helicopters landed on the roof and took 30 patients at a time.

7. The 82nd Airborne were engaged to protect patients and staff at Charity but they also worked hard at cleaning up the hospital. Then, in the midst of cleaning, the 82nd airborne were suddenly called away...they voiced their apologies but there was nothing they could do to reverse the order. The military left special locks to use at Charity so those who were still there could lock up the hospital.

8. After the 82nd Airborne left, there were only 22 interns and 3 staff left to finish cleaning the hospital. Before the job could be completed, the 22 interns were suddenly called away to other duties. Three staff spent several days shoveling mud from the basement of Charity so they could ask for an inspection by the Army Corps of Engineers and OSHA representatives in hope of being able to again see patients. The inspections were held and they were declared clean. Some additional inspectors were appointed by the LSU Board of Supervisors to look at Charity and they declared that the hospital was not clean and that there was asbestos in the ceilings. Opening Charity for seeing patients was denied.

9. The doors of Charity was locked and the remaining staff departed for some well earned night of rest. However, something caused the staff to return to Charity to double check that the building was secure. Upon arriving, the doors were found open/ajar, and water was pouring down the elevator shaft. Upon further inspection, it was found that hand sink drains in the restrooms on the upper floors had been clogged with towels and the water faucets had been turned on full....water was running from the restrooms to the elevator shaft and then to the lower levels. As to who and why such happened, remains a mystery. The staff turned off the water, un plugged the sinks, and re-secured the hospital building before, again, going off for a good night's rest.

10. With the help of FEMA money, LSU may be able to build a new trauma center in New Orleans, but I was informed that if the hospitals re-open they may lose the chance for such a windfall.

11. The USNS Comfort, a U.S. Navy hospital ship was deployed to New Orleans to help cover the patient load because the local hospitals were not up and functioning. A nice action on the part of the U.S. Navy...but upon arrival the leadership in New Orleans was so confused as to where to dock the ship up and how get patients to the ship that the Comfort saw an average of only three (3) patients each day...and at a cost of $1 million per day! Someone told me that after several days (weeks?) the Commanding Officer of the Comfort gave up trying to see patients and ordered the ship back to sea.

12. After the levies broke and flooded the streets around Charity hospital, Keith took a small boat he had found, got a broom from the hospital to use as a paddle and paddled up the street to visit the VA hospital to see how they were doing. Sounds like Keith, doesn't it?

13. The new HBO unit that was installed in Charity remained high and dry and was not damaged at all. It took 23 years to convince the hospital to install it, they treated patients for 23 days, and treated their 23rd patient the day before Katrina. Now, unless the LSU Board of Supervisors reverse their decision to open Charity, this beautiful system may never again treat patients.

14. A German company contractor had pumped out all the water from the basement of Charity (see above - at no cost) but had to leave for other commitments when the water level had dropped to about 18 inches. A contractor was contacted and his estimate was $16,000 per day to finish the job. There was no money readily available to pay the bill so Keith and a couple of others found an old abandoned pump that had flat tires. They patched the tires, worked over the engine, pushed the pump to Charity hospital, went to Home Depot and purchased $140 worth of hose, and began pumping out the remaining 18 inches of water. It worked and Charity was finally dry!

15. LSU approved the erection of a "tent hospital" to be erected in the Charity courtyard and it is there that Charity is now seeing patients.

I pass this to you because I thought you might like to know. God Bless!

Don