September 2, 2005

Hurricane relief efforts taking shape

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Hurricane relief efforts taking shape

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is gearing up efforts to help those devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

As part of a coordinated response through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), VUMC is working with the Nashville Office of Emergency Management and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to determine if Vanderbilt will receive any patients from Gulf Coast-area hospitals that are being closed due to disaster conditions, those that have reached capacity or those operating with limited resources.

“Should we receive a request to accept and care for patients from FEMA we will respond with whatever available resources we have,” explained Marilyn Dubree, M.S.N., director of Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer.

Dubree said many VUMC employees want to help. She offers two suggestions.

“VUMC is working through the Middle Tennessee Medical Reserve Corp (MTMRC), which is housed at Vanderbilt as part of the National Center for Emergency Preparedness, to send medical teams into the area,” Dubree said. “The other volunteer option would be to sign up for additional staffing needs should VUMC receive patients from the disaster area.”

If you are interested in the volunteer options to aid in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, please contact Lisa Ponton in Human Resources at 936-6060 or via e-mail at Ponton will need to know your name, credentials, a contact number, your supervisor's name and the volunteer option you are interested in (internal VUMC or external MTMRC). A list will be compiled and you will be called if needed.

The MTMRC, created by the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, is preparing to send a 12-member team to assist in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The team of mostly nurses and some physicians is working closely with the Red Cross to help in relief efforts. Work has been under way to prepare and pack medical supplies and mobilize the team of volunteers.

At press time it was not clear exactly where they would be dispatched to help, as they were awaiting final word from officials.

VUMC was prepared for Katrina as it became a tropical storm and blew into Tennessee with strong winds and heavy rain.

Work began at 6 a.m. on Monday morning to make sure the hospital was prepared. Loose objects on rooftops and construction areas were secured; generators were tested and fuel storage tanks were checked to make sure they were full.

LifeFlight helicopters were moved indoors into hangers at airports across Middle Tennessee to protect them from dangerous high winds.

Hoffner said no damage was reported on the Medical Center campus.