Dallas Physicians On Call for ‘Largest Disaster Response’ Ever

Cots set up at Dallas’ convention center for Hurricane Harvey refugees. Children’s Health and UT Southwestern medical staffers are on standby. (Courtesy of: Children’s Health)

Children’s Health caregivers are working alongside UT Southwestern and Parkland emergency medicine faculty, staff, and residents as they begin caring for the “expected thousands” of evacuees from Hurricane Harvey. So far, at least 100 people have taken refuge at the Kay Bailey Convention Center “Megashelter.”

According to Children’s Health, 80 of the 100 are currently going through medical triage. A spokesperson said families have been arriving off and on since Tuesday. Physicians and medical staff are preparing for population at the shelter to spike quickly once the roads being passable in Houston and cities closer to the coast. Full capacity is 5,000.

On Wednesday, Children’s Health brought in emergency medicine specialists, primary care providers, and registered nurses. The pediatrics-focused organization is also setting up a telemedicine clinic to examine more patients. So far, Children’s Health has seen patients “for basic pediatric evaluations.” Parkland Health and Hospital System has also provided doctors, nurses, and other personnel. Dr. Raymond Fowler, who’s leading the operation at the convention center, is chief of emergency medical services UT Southwestern and also practices at Parkland.

UT Southwestern and Parkland physicians and residents have begun triaging patients, providing mental and physical care, and assisting with evacuations, donations, and blood drives.

The medical center reported that more than 100 cots had been set up in the medical care area, which includes two triage areas, a quarantine area, a lactation area, and more. The emergency facility holds “10 high-acuity beds, 60 low-acuity beds, eight pediatric beds, and 20 beds in the observational area.”

UT Southwestern physicians said they are handling emotional stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues that arise when treating patients.

Dr. Raymond Fowler, chief of emergency medicine at UT Southwestern and a emergency doctor at Parkland, is the operation’s medical director. Fowler has been involved in responding to four previous hurricanes, two in 2005 and two in 2008. He said in a statement: “This has the appearance of being the largest disaster response we’ve ever had in this community. This is a joint community effort…[with] the citizens and the medical community have a way of coming together when it’s important, and this is an example of that.”

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