Authors

  1. Mason, Diana J. PhD, RN, FAAN, editor-in-chief

Abstract

But as Diana Mason discovered, there are many, many more.

 

Article Content

For more than a year, AJN has reported on the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Still, I was unprepared for the enduring devastation of the city and the stories of so many nurses who had provided care under unspeakable conditions and continue to struggle for some semblance of normalcy in their lives.

 

Asked to speak to an audience of almost 3,000 at the 20th annual Great 100 Nurses Night on October 11 at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, Louisiana, I arrived in the city at 12:30 PM. By the time I approached the podium that evening, I was uncertain whether I could say anything meaningful to people who had endured so much and responded so heroically.

 

Marianne Call, RN, had driven me around the city, showing me block after block of buildings either abandoned or so structurally unsound or contaminated with mold that they were uninhabitable. I was not surprised by estimates that 40% of the city's nurses have not returned.

 

I listened to nurses talk about the terrible choices they had had to make during the disaster. One nurse who had worked at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport told me it had housed very ill patients along with prisoners under the watch of too few guards. The devastating heat threatened to foment even more violence, so the decision was made to cool the space as much as possible to keep the prisoners calm. "I know that some of our sickest patients died from the cold because of this decision, but we had no choice," she said. Everyone I spoke with-whether a nurse or not-was fully supportive of RNs Cheri Landry and Lori Budo, who are accused along with Anna Pou, MD, of murdering four patients at Memorial Medical Center three days after Hurricane Katrina (see Editorial, October), saying that almost all who stayed to care for patients were confronted with difficult decisions and did the best they could to care for patients. (For more information about the nurses' case and efforts to support them, go to http://www.memorialnursessupportfund.com.)

 

Nurse after nurse told me that he or she is dedicated to the city, despite being depressed by living in prolonged devastation and working with staffing shortages that sometimes seem unsolvable (four patients for each nurse in one pediatric ICU).

 

It seemed that their families, friends, and colleagues, joined by community leaders and public officials, were cheering for more than just the usual fine accomplishments of nurses. They were cheering their survival.

 

Established by entrepreneur P. K. Scheerle, RN, in 1986, the event honors nurses nominated by their patients, families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. As noted in the program, "The Great 100 Nurses Award Celebration belongs to the people of Louisiana, each of whom has met and been touched by that exceptional registered nurse." The event raises close to $50,000 each year for research and projects by and for nurses, positive media coverage of nurses doing heroic work every day, and strategies for the recruitment and retention of nurses. To make a donation or for more information about the Great 100 Nurses Foundation Fund, contact Ms. Scheerle at pk@pknurses.com.

 

Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, editor-in-chief

 

Taking steps to promote circulation. To increase awareness of and funding for research on peripheral artery disease (PAD), the PAD Coalition and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute launched the Stay in Circulation: Take Steps to Learn about PAD campaign at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, September 19. Here, coalition members (from left) Meg Heim, Cindy Felty, and Peter Gloviczki show off T-shirts designed to promote the effort. A multidisciplinary group of more than 40 health and professional organizations and government and industry partners, the PAD Coalition was established in 2004. For more information, go to http://www.aboutpad.org.

  
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Kathleen Gross, MSN, RN, BC, CRN

 

the American Radiological Nurses Association's liaison to the PAD Coalition