Just as receding flood waters are beginning to expose the full extent of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, a remarkable spirit of human kindness has also been revealed in the wake of this natural disaster. Nurses from Mount Desert Island Hospital have taken it upon themselves to adopt two small hospitals in Louisiana and send them the supplies their staff so desperately needs.
“Many of us have donated to the Red Cross or The Salvation Army, but we wanted to do something on a more personal level,” said Gayle Gaynor, a registered nurse in MDI Hospital’s obstetrics unit.
Gaynor and Lily Sweeney, a registered nurse in the Hospital’s ICU decided to locate a hospital similar in size to the 25 bed MDI Hospital and offer whatever assistance they could. “I did some research and found a couple of Hospitals in Louisiana, St. James Parish Hospital and St. Charles Parish Hospital. “Coming from a small, rural hospital, we knew that when disasters happen, the small guy isn’t always the first to get help,” said Gaynor.
Gaynor contacted Geri Abadie, RN, Director of Clinical Services at St. James Parish Hospital and Denise North, Chief Nursing Officer at St. Charles Parish Hospital, to find out what assistance was needed. She then began talking to MDI Hospital staff to see what medical supplies and personal
items the Hospital and its staff could send to their newly adopted “sister” hospitals.
“It has definitely been a collaborative effort,” said Gaynor. “We’ve received surplus items from the laundry service, surgical services, the emergency department, and the laboratory. Nurses throughout the hospital have gathered scrub uniforms, and individuals have given personal items like clothing and toiletries.”
While relief agencies like the American Red Cross are recommending donations of money rather than supplies because of hidden costs and complications, Gaynor let her nurse’s instinct tell her what to do. Coordinating the collection of supplies and spending her own money, Gaynor has already shipped several hundred pounds of items to St. James Parish. “Nurses are going to do what it takes to get the job done.”
The connection she feels with the adopted hospitals extends to the communities they serve. “We’re the same in a lot of ways. Watching the devastation caused by Katrina has left us all shaken, knowing that this kind of disaster could happen to any community. I’d like to think that if the situations were reversed, we’d see the same generosity,” said Gaynor.
Corresponding via e-mail, the two adopted hospitals have expressed gratitude for the generosity of MDI Hospital and its nursing staff. “Your kindness and willingness to reach out to us means so much,” wrote Abadie in an e-mail. “It means so much just to know people care. God bless you and your staff.”