1. Jonsdottir, Sigridur Sia MS, CNM, RN

Article Content

Barkemeyer, B. M. (2006). Pediatrics, 117, S369-S374.

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In New Orleans, hospital evacuation had been discussed but a plan was never necessary. Individual hospitals had developed plans to weather the storm by stockpiling food and supplies, having working generators, and planning for staffing of key personnel. The NICU personnel at the University Hospital (UH) planned for the storm by transferring two infants on conventional ventilators to a more secure hospital. The second group of two infants was transferred 1 day after the hurricane landfall. They needed high-frequency ventilator treatment, and with unreliable generator power due to water entering the hospital basement, their care was compromised. The city's now well-known disorganized evacuation plans spilled over to UH, where a boat that was supposed to transport the babies to a waiting fire truck did not show up. Physicians finally moved the babies in a canoe.


Telephone contact became difficult, and by 3 days after landfall, UH's ability to communicate with the outside world was spotty at best. The NICU was a problem, because although a group of six infants along with nurses and a respiratory therapist left on a flatboat, they were turned back due to miscommunication. The terrible conditions started to take a toll on the staff, with some experiencing panic attacks. The air was hot and muggy without air conditioning. Personal hygiene was limited because of lack of running water for flushing toilets or bathing. On the forth day, the infants and staff were finally rescued after carrying 28 infants up six flights of stairs to the roof.


This article shows us that individuals need to be aware of what planning is in place for their facility and that flexibility is what is needed in such disasters. Staff need to bring necessary food and supplies for several days, and team leaders need to be able to support staff emotionally and physically. Calmness, open mindedness, tolerance, and improvisation are required in such extreme situations.


Sigridur Sia Jonsdottir