Carol is my sister. Please help if you can! Some of the requests are very minimal....like chocolate. The nurses and doctors are the unsung heroes, for sure.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
By KAY RUDDEROW
MILLVILLE -- Local resident Carol Burkhardt-Fuentes has experienced personal tragedy, but her concern now is for those in her own field -- nurses and medical staff who are the unsung heroes of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.
Fuentes is a nurse in the psychiatric unit at South Jersey Healthcare-Bridgeton. She lost her 12-year-old son, Devon, in 2000 from injuries sustained when he was struck by a car seven years earlier.
But she heard the plea for nurses to go to the storm-devastated area and, earlier this week, answered that call.
What she found when she arrived, she said, is something that no one could be prepared for.
Burkhardt-Fuentes went to the Biloxi Regional Medical Center in Mississippi, she said.
"They had no electricity, no running water, and 80 to 90 patients, many of whom were elderly and could not do anything for themselves," she said.
"There was a portable toilet out front, and that was it. But not a single patient in their care would ever know that the nurses had lost everything as well," Burkhardt-Fuentes said.
"These are professionals, but the few hours I was there, I learned they had needs as well," she said.
"If you asked what they needed, they would start telling me what the patients needed, not themselves. But I found out what some of them missed most, even if it was just a clean set of underwear," she said.
"The are sleeping on blankets, no mattresses or pillows. Some were concerned over the condition of their sneakers and the tennis shoes they wore on duty, since they were always walking through something and smelled so bad," she said.
"These are people who worked in clean, hygienic hospitals. Now, they don't even have the basics," she said. "The smell of death permeates everything. You can't get away from it."
Some requests are simple.
"Coffee and Tastykakes. Especially Peanut Butter Tandytakes and Butterscotch Crimpets," she listed. "Chocolate. And, even some makeup."
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Other needs included baby clothes and even colostomy bags, she said.
Burkhardt-Fuentes calls hospitals lighthouses, or beacons, where people turn for help.
She is attempting to gather some of the personal needs for the keepers of these lighthouses. She is hoping to find a drop-off location for items such as those mentioned earlier.
Once that is established, she will find a way to have them transported to Biloxi Regional or wherever there are unsung heroes in need.