Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hurricane Irene

It is early Tuesday morning as I write this by candlelight. Hurricane Irene hit late Saturday. We lost power that night. They estimate we could be in the dark for a week or more. They'll have a better estimate later today. Yesterday they made progress clearing the roads of trees and downed wires. Most roads are now passable. My town is 99% without power.
We are OK.
Unlike many of my neighbors, no trees down in my yard, only branches. No damage, although we have 8-9 inches of water in the basement.
Work on Monday was very busy! Monday's usually are, this was more so. Many doctor's offices are closed because they have no power. Also, many came in because they lost power for medical equipment like breathing treatments or electric wheel chairs or fear of being isolated.
In nursing we recognize that people regress when ill. For example, a sick 10 year old will act as he did at 6. I see the same regression with the stress of the storm and lack of power. Many of our patients have complex medical-psychological -social problems. Some have limited coping skills. Right now those skills are being taxed. There are shelters with power, food, water and oxygen. But a person with limited coping skills has trouble accessing them. The lack of family or community connections for some is disheartening.
I imagine the this next week will continue to be challenging, both at work and at home. It is important to remember that we are safe, we are well, and most important, we are not alone.
The hurricane also illustrates the importance of our local's community outreach program. The Backus Federation of Nurses is an organization of 450 RNs who already do great work individually with community organizations, sports teams, churches, schools, boy and girl scouts and more. We are working to establish relationships between our federation and community organizations so that when a need arises we can use our unique skills to help.
The middle of a crisis is not the time to build these relationships, now is the time. Our recent food drive with the United Way was a good beginning.

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