When Hurricane Florence hit coastal North Carolina in September, the team in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at New Hanover Regional Medical Center faced some daunting challenges. The support of other NICU teams across the state and across the country, however, gave them an extra dose of confidence as they fulfilled their duties to care for our community’s most vulnerable patients.
“Many of our tiniest, most fragile patients had to be moved to ensure that they would have the medical support and supplies they needed,” said Brandy Garris, NICU Nurse Manager at NHRMC. “Our facilities are capable of withstanding powerful hurricanes, and we have contingency plans for supplies and staffing, so we were ready for Florence. But when you are dealing with such delicate babies, you want them to be in the ideal medical situation at all times.”
Eight babies were transferred to WakeMed, UNC Children’s Hospital and Levine Children’s Hospital in advance of the storm.
As Florence stalled over Wilmington, flooding the city and blocking all roads into the region, the infants at NHRMC needed breast milk. So Vidant Medical Center and Atrium Health supplied donor breast milk, which was flown in with other emergency supplies.
As the situation developed in North Carolina, the team at Texas Children’s Hospital watched the news and identified with the challenges at NHRMC.
Just a year earlier, the Texas Children’s NICU team faced the same situation when Hurricane Harvey hit, flooding Houston and providing challenging barriers for some patients who needed immediate care. Like NHRMC, the Texas Children’s team enlisted the help of all available resources to attain their top priority – providing great care to the community, regardless of the circumstances.
After Florence hit North Carolina, the Texas Children’s NICU team contacted NHRMC and then sprang to action, putting together 20 care packages for the NHRMC NICU staff who were impacted by the storm. And on Thanksgiving, they sent Insomnia Cookies to our dayshift and nightshift teams. The Medical University of South Carolina also sent care packages to NHRMC.
“We greatly appreciate the thoughtfulness and generosity of the other NICU teams,” Garris said. “There’s a global camaraderie among nurses and other clinical care workers. When one team endures hardship, it is felt elsewhere, and others are eager to help.”