Sep 13, 2008

Voices of Ike - the ER is crazy tonight

11:02 pm, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008 Houston trauma surgeon Ken Mattox, MD

Brutal is to placid a word to describe summer humid heat in Houston. Miserable, mosquitoes, mad, are good "m" words to describe the environment. What a difference 24 hours make. Last night the EC was a tomb, and tonight it is crazy with many real very sick trauma patients, auto-pedistrian victims, etc. etc. We also have far too many nursing home special needs patients that are just dropped off by an ambulance transporting geriatric nursing patient home patients to a shelter, whose director thinks the person might benefit from some oxygen and sends them to the hospital. Not a good use of resources. I drove around the city this afternoon and tonight. Lots of uprooted trees and broken limbs. Nests of lights exist, but there are NO places to eat, NO grocery stores open, and I saw only ONE open pharmacy. ONLY ONE. Long lines for the gas pumps existed. We are pretty much FULL. A few beds here and there. Rumors exist that up to 14 hospitals of various sizes are running on total or partial emergency generator. At least two hospitals have asked that the BTGH receive their patients in transfer with 170 and 87 patients in the hospitals respectfully. The latter is a subsidiary of major hospital chain that has MANY multiples of this number in their system, but they still want BTGH to take the patients for a variety of reasons. We are reviewing their lists, while at the same time, the EC is now OVERCROWDED by political transfers, political acceptances, nursing home dumps, SAR dumps, and private ambulances bringing patients to us totally outside they system because they know that we will take care of them and no other hospital in the region will accept some such patients. The staff is getting TIRED and will be relieved by noon tomorrow by the E-2 group. Half of the E-1 group are asleep right now. We have had ten times more trauma patients in the first 10 hours after land fall than we had the 24 hours previous to the impact.

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