On Thursday, September 13, 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm in Wilmington, N.C. Soon afterwards, epic flooding began to take place in southeastern North Carolina that displaced thousands of residents. At New Hanover Regional Medical Center, some patients could be safely discharged but could not return home due to total or partial loss of property, lack of power, or their medical needs.
NHRMC decided to open a medical shelter at Codington Elementary School. Little did I know that this event would change my life forever.
I was called to report to the shelter first thing Tuesday morning for set up and assistance as patients would soon be arriving. I had no expectations whatsoever. We were told the patients would be medically complex with multiple needs such as oxygen, dialysis, wheelchair bound, or disabled. When our patients began arriving in the early afternoon, our NHRMC team jumped into action without hesitation. The teamwork, compassion, dedication, love, and commitment was beyond anything I have ever witnessed. Job titles meant nothing. We were all in it together and did anything needed or asked of us. Our team worked tirelessly through the remainder of the week until the State Medical Assistance Team arrived to manage the shelter.
Lifelong friendships were made between staff, volunteers, and patients. Our bond is unbreakable and, as one of our patients expressed, “We became a family this week.” We laughed, cried, celebrated, and said our goodbyes. As many of us return home, our hearts remain at that shelter and the patients/residents will be in our thoughts and prayers forever. I am humbled and grateful for the amazing team that helped serve our community.
I will be forever grateful to Dr. Amy Messier, Scott Whisnant and Terri DeWees for their amazing leadership and endless support. Also, I want to thank New Hanover County Schools, NHRMC, all administrators, administrative assistants, providers, pharmacists, registered nurses, nursing assistants, medical assistants, environmental staff, medical students, community volunteers, and all others who helped in this effort from the bottom of my heart.
I have never been more proud to work for New Hanover Regional Medical Center. It is a privilege and honor to represent such an amazing organization.