1. Jonsdottir, Sigridur Sia MS, CNM, RN

Article Content

Ginsberg, H.G (2006). Pediatrics, 117, S375-S380.


This article tells the story of evacuating an NICU during a disaster. It tells of an indoor temperature that reached 95 [degrees]F (35 [degrees]C) with humidity of 90% in the NICU at Louisiana's Ochsner Foundation Hospital (OFH), where the infants were making it clear to the staff that this was intolerable. Their baseline body temperatures began to rise despite being clothed only in diapers. Many of the infants became irritable and feeding-intolerant. Hurricane Katrina meant no air conditioning in the NICU; the flooding afterwards had cut off outside electricity, which meant that the three generators at the hospital could not produce enough electricity. The analyzers in the laboratory were also shutting down due to the heat and lack of fresh water. The staff was feeling the heat and humidity, and lack of sleep added to the stressful situation. Evacuation of the 26 infants was necessary and went very well. Their NICU, which was known to accept all ill newborns, desperately needed help to transport infants, and other hospitals were eager to help. The OFH had a 122-page emergency management manual, and a disaster drill had been rehearsed several times before. The NICU staff was divided into teams A and B. The A team members were to remain during the storm while B team members reported to their final destination and returned to relieve the A team once traveling was safe. During the disaster the hospital was able to have running water for flushing toilets and for the staff to shower (from well water that was dug as a part of disaster planning). This water was thought not suitable for bathing or cooling the infants. The hospital has reevaluated its preparation for an emergency situation. Among the changes they've made is buying a fourth generator to ensure air conditioning and waterless analyzers for their laboratories.


Sigridur Sia Jonsdottir