McALLEN -- After much of the Texas coast was devastated by hurricane Harvey, the immediate response of those at South Texas Health System was to figure out a way to help the victims of the category 5 storm.
When Joanne Shannon, director of emergency services and critical care at McAllen Medical Center, received a call from the Texas Emergency Task Force asking if she could send over six of their nurses, she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to find anyone willing to go on such a short notice.
Though, the problem would soon turn out to be the complete opposite of what she had feared.
Shannon reached out to all the STHS facilities to gather volunteers and by the end of the night 20 people said they were willing to make the trip even though they only needed six.
Lance Ames, chief operating officer at Edinburg Regional Medical Center and Edinburg Children’s Hospital, described the attitude of his employees as “truly admirable.”
“As soon as we brought the invitation to our nursing staff just about every nurse in the emergency room volunteered,” he said. “There’s a lot to admire in who they are and what they were willing to do for the community.”
One of those volunteers was Deborah Folsom, a nurse at the STHS Emergency Room in Weslaco, who provided care to victims of the storm in Corpus Christi and Orange, Texas.
Many were trapped in their homes without electricity or access to prescribed medications, she said. Even those who did not need medical assistance still had to bear the burden of discarding their damaged belongings in order to avoid dangerous mold.
“Some people who were stuck hadn’t had their insulin for their diabetes, or they couldn’t get dialysis -- so when we got to see them some of them in bad shape,” she said. “While driving by we saw all the people’s belongings, their carpeting and parts of their walls on the side of the road waiting to be picked up. If they didn’t do that, their homes would be covered in black mold and there would be no way to recuperate anything.”
Folsom and five other nurses were recognized by STHS at a reception on Thursday at the Embassy Suites by Hilton hotel in McAllen.