HOUSTON — Local residents are staying dry inside the MD Anderson hospital while waiting out the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Pittsburg resident Karen Johnston had traveled to Texas to stay with her daughter Deidre Spahn, of Weir, during her hospital visits as she battles leukemia. They have been in Houston since June while Spahn goes through her cancer treatments.
Spahn was admitted to the MD Anderson Hospital with a fever before Harvey hit. Johnston said she was thankful her daughter was admitted before the hurricane.
“Leukemia patients need frequent infusions of blood and platelets, as an outpatient we have to be at the hospital at least four times a week for low platelets and appointments,” Johnston said.
“For this reason we were thankful she was a patient.
“Deidre has no immune system and is instructed to go straight to the emergency room if she has a temperature of 100.5 degrees — an infection can get serious very quickly. I am so grateful we were here.”
Johnston said Saturday evening the hospital was closed due to high water and although the hospital has floodgates, by morning the water was coming into the first floor lobby and pavilion areas of the hospital.
“Sunday was very scary,” Johnston said. “Not only did we not know how high the water was going to get or how it would possibly affect the elevators and power, there were constant tornado warnings throughout the day and evening.
“At one time, three tornadoes were reported near the hospital.”
She said the nurses were instructed to plan on staying at the hospital over the weekend and cots were laid out for them to sleep on.
“I was impressed with the nurses,” Johnston said. “Even though they were worried about their homes and family, they were very professional and took great care of the patients.”
Johnston said many of the hospital staff were affected.
“Many of them lost their homes,” she said. “One of Deidre's nurses had a wife and four kids at home in a house with rising water — he couldn't get to them if he wanted to — they were rescued and are fine.”
One of Spahn’s doctors had to wade through waist-deep water to get to the hospital, Johnston said.
She said blood and platelets were given to critical patients only and bedding was changed only if soiled.
The patients menu options were reduced along with the times they could order food, and the staff and family members of patients were fed in the cafeteria.
On Monday the water receded and more nurses were able to make it in to relieve some of the nurses with children that were evacuated from their homes — most have been there since Friday, Johnston said.
She said other hospitals in the area were not as fortunate and they had to evacuate their patients.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.