In Baton Rouge Scott Weinstein

Baton Rouge, September 6, 2005 — Just a short note while I have internet access. Have visited 3 large health facilities in makeshift centers — a K-Mart 'MASH' unit, the LSU Field House and the LSU PMac basketball stadium which is under Federal control because there are a lot of soldiers outside with rifles. Baton Rouge is the staging area for medical operations for New Orleans about 65 miles away.

Plenty of everything

Generally, my impression is that there are plenty of volunteer staff from around the country. The facilities are full of supplies. There is not a crush of patients, the three facilities were at most 1/3rd full, and at this stage of the disaster, patients are being brought in at a slow steady rate. While communications and coordination could be a lot better, the rescue situation appears here at least, to be running reasonably well. The centers are discharging patients rapidly to general shelters, or other accommodations.

The reports from the EMTs about the situation in New Orleans is still sketchy, but there is no doubt that there is a lot of hostility between some of the poor black residents and some of the military, police and EMTs.

Am volunteering in the isolation 'unit' at the LSU PMAC basketball stadium, and we are fearing a gastroenteritis epidemic. But so far, it seems that the diarrhea we are seeing is not from any spreading bug — but just from stress, starvation, dehydration and food poisoning. We have no standard paperwork - our forms are from all over the place. While the US Public Health Service is 'running' the show here at PMAC, there is space to improvise and be autonomous.

Black and white

The buzz is positive among the health workers — you know how we are when we get to work doing something right. The floods of Katrina have been replaced by the flood of health workers wanting to do the right thing.

The patients have told me tales that are simply incredible — as you know from the news. Amazing strong people to survive such brutal weather, along with a lack of food and water. Most health workers are not happy about how the disaster plans were so badly handled.

The EMTs have suffered the brunt of stress among the rescuers - and there are stress debriefing sessions.

This is also America, and there is tons of food, and and disproportionately high number of white people who are medical and administrative workers, and blacks who have blue color jobs.

By luck, I happen to run around with two other like minded souls who are action-med material. They were impressed by what we do.

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