Lake Charles nurses receive honor for aiding Hurricane Harvey vi - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lake Charles nurses receive honor for aiding Hurricane Harvey victims

Lake Charles nurses receive honor for aiding Hurricane Harvey victims

Two Southwest Louisiana nurses were honored over the weekend for their part in helping Hurricane Harvey victims. The women were recognized at the Annual Nightingale Awards Gala in Baton Rouge.

Hundreds were taken to Burton Coliseum after Hurricane Harvey tore through East Texas and Southwest Louisiana. The aftermath of the Hurricane left thousands displaced from their homes.

Lauren Courville and Lindsey Bufford were nominated for their work in putting together an emergency triage center for patients who arrived at the facility. 

Courville says, "It's breathtaking. We weren't expecting to get any kind of statewide recognition for this. We just kind of felt like it was a duty that we were able to help and be called up to do something like this. Really it wasn't without our volunteers that we were really able to get this done so it was definitely a team effort for this."

The ceremony honors excellence in nursing and leadership.

Read the letter of nomination submitted for the award:

In late August 2017 Hurricane Harvey brought record flooding to SE Texas and SW Louisiana resulting in a huge numbers of evacuees.  Burton Coliseum in south Calcasieu Parish was a designated staging point to gather evacuees and bus them to the larger shelters.  However, evacuees ended up staying at the coliseum for extended periods of time.

It was soon evident that people were arriving with dire medical needs, no dry clothes, no medicine and hungry.  Lindsey Bufford, PHMNP-BC and Lauren Courville, BSN, RN originally volunteered to help the American Red Cross at the Coliseum and were sent home. Hours later they were called back when the numbers of evacuees became overwhelming.

Lauren and Lindsey spearheaded and directed medical response services in conjunction with the National Guard, Acadian Ambulance, Sheriff’s Office, LA State Troopers, DOTD, DCFS, LDH, and the American Red Cross at the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, LA for Texas and Louisiana evacuees. These nurses arranged a three-step medical triage center for medical emergencies, medical maintenance, and medical clearance for transportation of evacuees from the transition station “lily pad” to shelters in north Louisiana.

They solicited and provided volunteer staff ranging from licensed to unlicensed personnel 24 hours a day for 5 days during disaster relief efforts. Lindsey and Lauren used social media and text messaging to recruit physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and supplies from local health care agencies and McNeese State University College of Nursing and Health Professions. 

They orchestrated the delivery of medical supplies to the medical triage unit. Supplies poured in from a variety of sources that not only addressed the medical needs of evacuees, but also provided dry clothing and food for them. Additionally, they coordinated with Walmart and CVS pharmacies to obtain medication lists from evacuees and arranged the delivery of these medications to the evacuees upon arrival to the shelters. They assisted Walgreen’s pharmacy with providing tDap and flu shots to evacuees.

Both women received a coin of excellence from Command Sergeant Major Albert Vanzant with the National Guard 61st troop command for services rendered during the disaster response who stated and said “I have been all over the world for disasters and I have not had a medical facility set up like this ever”. 

Their outstanding coordination efforts resulted in  them being asked by the director of the Calcasieu Medical Reserve Corp to be official members of the Corp and co-direct the medical operations during future disaster relief efforts.

These nurses demonstrate leadership because they saw a need they could address, acted independently to meet that need and provided a very impressive service for communities devastated by this hurricane. The enduring legacy of this experience is a closer relationship with the Calcasieu Medical Reserve Corp whose efforts were focused upon the evacuees at the Lake Charles Civic Center. As a result of this medical clinic significant numbers of new members of the Calcasieu Medical Reserve Corp have been recruited to improve overall emergency response capacity for future events.

Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved. 

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