Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I Survived Hurricane Irma as a Health Unit Coordinator

Due to Hurricane Irma, and because I am a Health Unit Coordinator, I had the pleasure of spending over 50 hours straight at the hospital where I work.


This wasn’t my first time being on lockdown at work. Last year, due to Hurricane Matthew,  I spent over 24 hours at work.


But this time I learned some things.


First, I didn't need to bring everything that I owned with me. I was so proud of myself that I only had to make two trips from my car.


Second, I packed healthy snacks. I didn’t hit up the vending machines. I actually left with all of the cash that I had brought with me.


Third, I had my sleeping arrangement already prepared. Last year, I slept on a stretcher and this year I said, “No way Jose”. I found a nice recliner and slept like a baby.

We were also well protected because the police department had set up a command center in our basement.





None of us knew what to expect this year. We had all breathed a sigh of relief when Hurricane Irma veered to the West Coast of Florida, but we still were going to get bands of strong winds and rain.



But work was still being done. We had a patient whose health was deteriorating. I tried calling the answering service to get the attending physician to call back, but the call wouldn’t go through. He doesn’t like to be paged overhead, so I called around to the other units asking my fellow HUCs if they had seen that particular doctor. The answer was all the same. “He was here earlier, but now he’s gone.” Finally, I had to do what I didn’t want to do. I called him on his cell phone. He was nice about it and spoke with the nurse. He gave the nurse an order for a Pulmonary consult and I placed the call to the Pulmonologist answering service.


That call went through.


We didn’t have to worry too much about the power going out because the hospital had a generator, but every time the power flickered the air condition kicked off.


On the last night of the lockdown, a doctor anonymously donated money and bought all of the employee's dinner.


But by Monday, as Hurricane Irma was working her way up Florida, everyone at the hospital was ready to go. We stepped outside to find tree limbs and debris everywhere. And it was hot and humid. The Emergency Department was quickly filling up and the post Hurricane staff was on their way in.

I’m so glad that I survived Hurricane Irma.

Now tell me, have you ever had a situation where the hospital you worked at was on lockdown? Or had a time where more than 50 patients came in at once in a trauma emergency? Then please share in the comment section!