As Hurricane Katrina barreled towards New Orleans, Louisiana, hospitals across the city prepared for the coming storm. Staff members streamed in and began stockpiling food, water, medical supplies, and fuel. But what no one foresaw was that their emergency generators would flood and fail, leaving hospitals stranded in the rising water with no air conditioning or much of their equipment and unable to evacuate patients and staff by land. Throughout the devastating winds, rising waters, and August heat, nurses stuck by their patients. They improvised new emergency procedures and methods of record-keeping and patient transport, all without power or reliable information. These angels saved lives while their world fell apart around them.
The individual voices of nurses come from six New Orleans-area hospitals—Veterans Affairs, Pendleton Memorial, Medical Center of Louisiana in New Orleans, Charity, Tulane Medical Center, and Ochsner—as well as Lambeth House retirement community and the Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge. They speak to the vital importance and ingenuity of nurses under pressure. This work examines the disaster plans used by each facility, examines what the most successful procedures were, and provides recommendations for preparing nurses for disaster response. Voices of Angels is a case study and planning guide essential for facilities facing hurricanes, tornadoes, power outages, and a host of other issues that affect medical centers nationwide.
About the Authors
Gail Tumulty was professor emeritus of the Healthcare Systems Management Graduate Nursing Program at Loyola University New Orleans, which she developed and implemented. In her long nursing and management career she received a Nursing Excellence Award from the Ochsner Foundation, a Merit Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement, and an American Organization of Nurse Executives Research Scholar Award. Tumulty passed away before the publication of this book.
John R. Batty is an experienced psychiatric nurse who interviewed the nurses who treated patients during and after Hurricane Katrina. He and co-author Gail Tumulty presented the nurses’ experiences at the American Nurses’ Association conference. Batty’s research into hospital conditions and evacuations has made him a respected expert in disaster management. Batty, a former writer for First NBC Bank, lives and works in New Orleans, Louisiana.