No. of Recommendations: 1
Thought this a wortwhile post. It comes from an e-mail I read on a website. Adds another angle to the tragedy.

Prairieville, LA, September 8

Angie Merchant, a nurse living near Baton Rouge wrote;

"Here an especially tragic story: the day after the hurricane, we heard that a nursing home near New Orleans had opted not to evacuate. We were very worried for them, though I know how expensive it is to relocate, and traumatic for the residents as well.

Today I heard that the staff had abandoned them, and that thirty or more of the patients had drowned. I cannot imagine, even in my wildest dreams, abandoning a patient. Sure, you would lose your license by doing that, but to me it's an ethical / spiritual issue. Since I wasn't in their situation, it's probably not fair to judge them, but I still can't imagine it. I can only think the staff got desperate. How awful for those helpless elderly! I can only pray that God was with them in their fear.

As I mentioned in my last note, the condition of the residents we received from New Orleans was not good—several have already died—and I am hoping this is a wakeup call to Louisiana to take a long, hard look at how it handles its poor, and how it runs its whole healthcare system, which has many, many flaws. In fact, the word “healthcare” is a bit of an oxymoron—“health-neglect” would be more accurate. I am hoping we take Katrina at face value and never forget the images and realities we're dealing with. That may be the only way we can motivate the powers that be to improve things over the long term.

Yesterday I talked with a woman who was a first responder at the evacuation; she drove one of the buses. She said that what she saw and heard will stay with her forever, it was so horrendous. She gave one example—the story of a very frail elderly woman who was just barely alive—totally emaciated. This evacuee was brought on a makeshift stretcher of some kind to the bus.

My friend (the bus driver) had been given strict instructions not to transport any sick people, but others insisted (and she didn't argue) that this lady be brought aboard. So they put her stretcher across two seats and held onto it till they got to a shelter.

Once there, however, my friend was not allowed to have the lady brought in. So after doing what she could, she ended up having to leave her on the stretcher in the shade of a tree, hoping someone would see her and care for her. Now she is haunted by the image of this woman lying there and grasping a bottle of water that someone had placed in her hand. (They tried to get her to drink, but she couldn't or wouldn't.)…

My husband, Paul, is on vacation this week and has been volunteering at our church. Today he and several others went to the Home Depot parking lot where a insurance company had set up a trailer to start processing claims. They decided it might be a good opportunity to set up a grill and feed and minister to the endless lines of evacuees as they waited.

Home Depot gave them their blessing beforehand and even offered to provide water bottles. However, when they got there, the insurance company asked them to leave—why, they're not sure, except the people might get mustard stains on the claim forms… So they headed out to the welfare office, where the line stretched for hundreds of feet. They ended up grilling over 1000 hotdogs, and handing out countless bags of chips and bottles of water.

I think what surprised my husband most was that quite a few people turned their nose up at the water and said they'd only drink it if it were cold. It IS hot outside—about 94 F today—but ice is in short supply and the water was cool and quite drinkable. It brought to mind the woman that was interviewed at the Astrodome [in Houston], who complained that not one meal served at the Superdome [New Orleans] had been hot. No power, no A/C—and surprisingly, no hot food?

Funny how there are always those who'll look the gift horse in the mouth. Oh well, it's a sign of these stressful times. You just have to let it roll. These poor people have been through more than I can ever imagine.

Speaking of stress, Baton Rouge is crazy right now. The traffic is horrendous and the stores can't keep the shelves stocked. Even at Walmart you see rows and rows of empty shelves with just a few scattered items here and there. I have to allow an hour to get to work, though it used to take 30 minutes in heavy traffic.

As I wrote earlier, everything seems to be up for sale: land, apartments, homes, commercial properties. There were three homes in our subdivision for sale on Saturday, and by Monday they were all sold. Paul is president of the Home Owners Association at a development where we own a condo, and since he knew one an owner there who had three units for sale, he tried to talk the guy into renting them out to some of our evacuees at Regency Place, where I work.

At first the guy came up with an outrageous price, but after Paul got on the phone and chewed him out, he came down to a somewhat more reasonable rate, and now four of our evacuee nurses at Regency are renting it… But that's enough for now."

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