By Christine V. Amstutz RN MN
Supervisor Health Services
Having just returned, it is with a lot of raw emotion as I write about my encounters as a nurse in the field and a shelter in the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I had the opportunity to fly down to that region with a nurse team put together by KFI News radio and Becky Ashlock a COC nursing instructor.
We were a group of (4) nurses from Southern California and our assignment included both field work and working in a shelter in the Pass Christian/Long Beach border. Unfortunately this was the area that the eye of the hurricane came through destroying most of the town and leaving only rumble and debris behind. We saw from 200-300 victims a day. We treated anything from dehydration, respiratory problems, wound care, to tetanus and Hepatitis vaccines.
The question that became a standard to ask was “did you lose everything?” I heard many stories of strength, despair and courage from these people and all the while their very genteel way shown brightly. They had a very difficult time being on the receiving end of being helped and many, although totally homeless, brought me gifts when I left. Imagine when you have lost not only a loved one but your business or work place and your home. Even so, all I heard from these people was thank you so much for being here. My response was it was honor for me to be there to help and give of myself to them.
I still hear their voices, see their faces and remember their stories. In all honesty I left feeling I received much more from them than I gave. The southern genteel hospitality is alive and well.