Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | September 27, 2018

Duke Raleigh ED Team Members Help Those in Need After Hurricane Florence

Duke Raleigh Hospital ED Team Members Dr. Tyler Levick; Marge Huffman, RN, CEN; and Katia Ferguson, RN were deployed to Goldsboro in the wake of Hurricane Florence to help treat patients.


According to Dr. Levick, patients ranged from the self-sufficient to those with more chronic or debilitating illnesses that required very close monitoring include peritoneal dialysis patients, total nursing care patients, and even hospice care. Katia Ferguson noted that many of the chronically ill patients lived at home so they came to the shelter during the storm to make sure they had power to run their machinery like oxygen concentrators and home ventilators.

“For my part, as patient status changed or patients required urgent evaluation, I was able to provide the care required to keep them stabilized.” He added, “Much of my assistance consisted of providing a hot meal to patients, helping nursing staff turn, transfer or otherwise care for patients on a daily basis.”

Katia Ferguson said, “The patients and caregivers were incredibly grateful for the care they received. We took great care to make sure that patients only left to go home if the situation was safe to do so.” She mentioned that the team used state and county websites and spoke with first responders to determine whether the patient’s home had electricity, was accessible around the flood waters, and was safe to enter.

The first SMAT team deployed to the area turned a closed psychiatric hospital into a fully functioning care facility over the course of one week. Patient areas were clean with bedding and additional amenities as needed.

Marge Huffman describes one moving story from her time in Goldsboro when a team of nurses decided to host an ice cream social to boost spirits after learning about a woman and her daughter who had lost their home: “The residents were all excited about the ice cream. We decorated in a Halloween theme, and the smiles, tears, and pure happiness on the faces of the residents was fabulous. There were just as many tears on the faces of the staff as well. We cried, laughed, and made people forget about things for a few minutes.”

Teams from other states including New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, and California worked alongside DRAH colleagues as well. “What amazed me was how cohesive all our culturally and regionally varied groups worked,” Dr. Levick said. “All were extraordinarily polite and collegial, and I think this showed well in patient care.”

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Dr. Levick ended with, “I’m honored to have had the privilege of working with such great people and patients, and if needed again, I would deploy in a heartbeat.” Similar sentiments were echoed by Katia and Marge.

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