Saturday, September 03, 2005

from the frontlines (August 31)

I just received this but think it is still worth posting. Since the email says he wants word to get out, I have left identifying details (including name) in.

I sent my donation here

>> Aug. 31, 2005
>> This is a dispatch from New Orleans from Dr. Greg Henderson, a
>> pathologist who recently moved from Wilmington:
>> Thanks to all of you who have sent your notes of concern and your
>> prayers. I am writing this note on Tuesday at 2 p.m.. I wanted to update
>> all of you as to the situation here. I don't know how much information
>> you are getting
>> but I am certain it is more than we are getting. Be advised that almost
>> everything I am telling you is from direct observation or rumor from
>> reasonable sources. They are allowing limited internet access, so I hope
>> to
>> send this dispatch today.
>> Personally, my family and I are fine. My family is safe in Jackson,
>> Miss., and I am now a temporary resident of the Ritz Carleton Hotel in
>> New Orleans. I figured if it was my time to go, I wanted to go in a place
>> with a good wine list. In addition, this hotel is in a very old building
>> on Canal Street that could and did sustain little damage. Many of the
>> other hotels sustained significant loss of windows, and we expect that
>> many of the guests
>> may be evacuated here.
>> Things were obviously bad yesterday, but they are much worse today.
>> Overnight the water arrived. Now Canal Street (true to its origins) is
>> indeed a canal. The first floor of all downtown buildings is underwater.
>> I
>> have heard that Charity Hospital and Tulane are limited in their ability
>> to care for patients because of water. Ochsner is the only hospital that
>> remains fully functional. However, I spoke with them today and they too
>> are
>> on generator and losing food and water fast.
>> The city now has no clean water, no sewerage system, no electricity, and
>> no real communications. Bodies are still being recovered floating in the
>> floods. We are worried about a cholera epidemic. Even the police are
>> without effective communications. We have a group of armed police here
>> with us at the hotel that is admirably trying to exert some local law
>> enforcement. This is tough because looting is now rampant. Most of it is
>> not malicious looting. These are poor and desperate people with no
>> housing and no medical care and no food or water trying to take care of
>> themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the people are armed and
>> dangerous. We hear gunshots frequently. Most of Canal street is occupied
>> by armed looters who have a low threshold for discharging their weapons.
>> We hear gunshots frequently. The looters are using makeshift boats made
>> of pieces of styrofoam to access. We are still waiting for a significant
>> national guard presence.
>> The health care situation here has dramatically worsened overnight. Many
>> people in the hotel are elderly and small children. Many other guests
>> have unusual diseases. ... There are (Infectious Disease) physicians in
>> at this hotel attending an HIV confection. We have commandered the world
>> famous French Quarter Bar to turn
>> into an makeshift clinic. There is a team of about seven doctors and PAs
>> and pharmacists. We anticipate that this will be the major medical
>> facility in the central business district and French Quarter.
>> Our biggest adventure today was raiding the Walgreens on Canal under
>> police escort. The pharmacy was dark and full of water. We basically
>> scooped the entire drug sets into garbage bags and removed them. All
>> under police excort. The looters had to be held back at gunpoint. After a
>> dose of prophylactic Cipro I hope to be fine.
>> In all we are faring well. We have set up a hospital in the the French
>> Qarter bar in the hotel, and will start admitting patients today. Many
>> will be from the hotel, but many will not. We are anticipating dealing
>> with
>> multiple medical problems, medications and and acute injuries. Infection
>> and perhaps even cholera are anticipated major problems. Food and water
>> shortages are imminent.
>> The biggest question to all of us is where is the National Guard. We hear
>> jet fignters and helicopters, but no real armed presence, and hence the
>> rampant looting. There is no Red Cross and no Salvation Army.
>> In a sort of cliché way, this is an edifying experience. One is rapidly
>> focused away from the transient and material to the bare necessities of
>> life. It has been challenging to me to learn how to be a primary care
>> phyisican. We are under martial law so return to our homes is impossible.
>> I don't know how long it will be and this is my greatest fear. Despite it
>> all, this is a soul-edifying experience. The greatest pain is to think
>> about
>> the loss. And how long the rebuid will take. And the horror of so many
>> dead people .
>> from the front. I will send more according to your interest. Hopefully
>> their collective prayers will be answered. By the way, suture packs,
>> sterile gloves and stethoscopes will be needed as the Ritz turns into a
>> Greg Henderson

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