Others, including Lynne Wagoner, MD, UC
cardiology professor and director of cardiac transplant services at
University Hospital, and Ginger Conway, UC cardiac nursing
practitioner, packed their stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs and
headed south to provide urgent medical care.
Together, they led the UC contingent for
a week in the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, La., 90 miles outside of New
Orleans, exemplifying the Academic Health Center's can-do response.
They were quickly joined by Jeff Askew, MD, UC cardiology
fellow, who had been in the military at Wright Patterson Air Force Base
in Dayton and had disaster drill experience, and Barb Bell, a master's
candidate in the UC College of Nursing.
When word spread that the team was
heading south, donations from the community started to pour in,
including $5,000 worth of medicine and medical supplies from University
Hospital and the Health Alliance, a loaner van from Jeff Wyler, UC
Board of Trustees, and money, gas cards and other support from UC staff.
"We couldn't have made this trip without the generosity of many Cincinnatians," says Dr. Wagoner.
While in Lafayette, the team worked side
by side with the American Red Cross and other medical volunteers from
across the country in an emergency triage clinic.
"We were the new recruits on the first
day at the Cajun Dome clinic," says Dr. Wagoner. "After that, people
were asking us for advice, like we were in charge."
The team treated people with diabetes,
high blood pressure, skin rashes, dysentery and other infectious
diseases carried by the toxic flood waters.
"It was a hard experience," says Dr.
Askew. "These people quickly went from celebrating the fact that they
survived to realizing that they had nothing left. I felt real bad."
Dr. Wagoner, like Dr. Askew, describes
the experiences as disturbing, yet satisfying because she felt that she
and her colleagues were able to make a difference.
"The Red Cross really had everything set
up so well at the dome that it could be used as a model for planning at
other dome emergency shelters in the future," adds Dr. Wagoner. "We
sent patients needing special services to the area hospitals and relied
more on what we observed and what we knew to treat the majority of the
With the recent onset of Hurricane Rita,
the need to provide disaster relief is at an all-time high. The
response of Academic Health Center employees and students has been
incredible. The following is just a glimpse of what others have
done--and are still doing--to provide relief:
The easiest way to help victims of the
hurricanes is to make a monetary donation to UC's Hurricane Relief
Fund, which runs through Nov. 1. All money raised will be donated to
the American Red Cross.