Last week when Hurricane Laura pommelled through the state of Louisiana, the staff who worked at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women had to think fast. In order to protect their most critical patients, the babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) (you can learn more about the NICU nursing specialty here), they needed to safely transport the babies across town in less than three hours. The fragile lives of these babies, some of them only weighing a pound or two, were in the hands of these heroic clinicians.
Nurses Safely Transport 19 Babies During Crisis Response to Hurricane Laura
A group of NICU nurses detailed how they had to move the babies to another hospital where they rode out the hurricane. The team consisted of 14 nurses, three respiratory therapists, one physician, and two neonatal nurse practitioners. The entire ordeal that consisted of moving the babies and then riding out the storm had some of the clinicians working a 48-hour shift, where others were let go after 12-24 hours as appropriate.
Leah Upton, the director of NICU at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women, explains that her staff was given only three hours to get those babies to higher ground. Leah tells ABS News:
“We had 19 critical babies. You’re not just talking about carrying babies across town. You’re talking about the isolette beds, the feeding tubes, breast milk, all the things these infants need we had to transport.”
The lives of the precious infants were in the hands of their caregivers. Upton continues to explain what it means to be a nurse in the face of a crisis response situation.
“You have a duty and a responsibility to these patients. These babies, we treat them like they are our own.”
Before 11:00 p.m. that night, the power had gone out and the hospital was running with the use of a generator. There were 22 staff members who had to work together to batten down the hatches and keep the babies safe during the remainder of the storm. By 1:00 a.m., the storm had intensified. Upton said, "our whole building was shaking and moving, and you could feel it. We had water coming in under the window. Our room was just a puddle. We had to mop up the room the whole night just to make a dry spot for these babies."
America Responds with Gratitude Toward These Nurses
Praise and thanks have been pouring in from all over the nation to these NICU nurses and other staff members for the sacrifice they made by working long hours and providing the best possible care for these babies, who reportedly, slept like angels throughout the entire ordeal.
Mother Recalls Her Experience As Her Baby Was About to Be Transferred
Tabitha Fawcet was a patient in the hospital recovering from a difficult c-section the night of the transfer. Her baby girl, Witley, was only two days old and tethered to a ventilator. The nurses came in and told her that because of the anticipated storm they would be transferring the babies to a hospital on higher ground. The nurses gave worried parents updates on social media throughout the night, such as the one that is tweeted about by ABC7 above.
Fawcet expressed her gratitude for the nurses and how they cared for the babies that night and provided updates on Facebook. She said, "that reassurance right there, that really helped me get through the night. For sure." Tabitha commented about the nurses "without them, we would not have kept our sanity. It was rough, but because of them, we were able to really pull through.
Nurses Share Details About the Crisis Response Jobs They Worked That Night
Crisis response nursing jobs come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes nurses pick up strike jobs in response to a crisis. Other times, RNs, LPNs, and CNAs might pick up PRN jobs nearby for a crisis, such as COVID-19.
And then there are times when nurses who go in to work a normal shift end up responding to an unprecedented crisis while they are work. That was the case for the nurses who went into work the night the babies were moved from Lake Charles Memorial. Krissy Morris, a nurse practitioner who was there that night said that:
"It was pretty terrifying, just the wind and the water coming through, but our focus was these babies. We wanted to make sure all of them were taken care of, just like we would take care of them ... whether there was a storm or not. So that was our main focus, so it kind of went fast from there because we had so many babies to take care of."
Nurses from the hospital responded in another video and provide a few more details about the terrifying events that unfolded on that night. Weather experts were predicting an unsurvivable category 4 storm with 150 mph winds and a storm surge as high as 15 feet. The team was able to successfully move all 19 babies in only two hours, which is an hour less than the three hours they were told they had to complete the transfer by in order to be there safely.
Leah Upton, empathizes with the parents of the infants:
"No one wants to be separated from family during a time like this, but my four children evacuated with my husband, so I knew that they were in safe hands, I just couldn't imagine what the mothers of these babies felt during this time because their babies were here. They had to put a lot of trust in us to take care of them."
See the full video and read the full story at Today.
Want to Know More About Crisis Response PRN Jobs for RNs, LPNs, & CNAs?
Are you a clinician that wants to make a difference in your local community? If so, pícking up crisis response jobs when they are available might be of interest to you. Download Nursa™ to watch for local PRN jobs for registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and certified nursing assistants (CNAs). We have been providing COVID-19 jobs for nurses throughout this pandemic, and we also allow hospitals to post their own crisis response nursing jobs on our on-demand PRN nursing app.