AAOS Now, November 2017
Tales from the Hurricane Front
It's not that the healthcare system in Houston wasn't prepared for Hurricane Harvey. Having seen the devastation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and, before that, tropical storm Allison, which inundated Houston in 2001, the city's hospitals and medical network were ready as Harvey bore down on the Texas coast. As ready as anyone can be for a once-in-five-lifetimes storm.
On the Water Front
On Sunday, as waters were rising on streets near his Memorial neighborhood in Houston, Stefan Kreuzer, MD, MSc, and friend Brian Dominguez, ventured out in a large truck to salvage food from Brian's house, which had lost electricity. On the way, Dr. Kreuzer sent a text to one of his patients—a woman for whom he had done a hip replacement about a month prior to Hurricane Harvey. She replied with a photo showing water halfway up her front door.
It was the water of Hurricane Harvey, not the wind, that caused most of the billions of dollars in destruction, and the experiences reported by orthopaedic and other medical personnel speak to that fact. At the Memorial Hermann trauma center at Texas Medical Center—one of two Level 1 facilities in the region—the days of the storm were mostly quiet, even uneventful for what by some measures is described as the nation's busiest trauma center.
In the Firehouse
Amy Cockerham is a nurse practitioner who works in orthopaedic trauma with Joshua Gary, MD, at Memorial Hermann's Level 1 trauma center in Houston and lives in Friendswood, a bedroom community south of the city. With the rising waters paralyzing transportation around her, Ms. Cockerham stayed in Friendswood to serve as a medical coordinator at an emergency operations center established at the fire station.
Taggart Gauvain, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon, proved his versatility when he joined Houston's improvised version of the "Cajun Navy" —the volunteer rescue force of Louisiana-based boaters that assembled after Hurricane Katrina and then towed their armada to Houston—to help in the Harvey flooding. Dr. Gauvain related how much of the informal rescue efforts in Houston coalesced organically through text messages and social media.
Inside the Shelter
Camden Tissue, MD, is a recently minted orthopaedic trauma surgeon practicing at Memorial Hermann Southwest in Houston. As a lifelong Houstonian, he returned to the area after completing his training in New York. "My wife and I looked at each other as Hurricane Harvey was bearing down the coast and said, 'Why did we leave New York again?'" he said. Dr. Tissue noted that as a wind event, Harvey was underwhelming.
Post-Hurricane Maria: Many Ask, 'How Can I help?'
On Sept. 28, 2017, Hurricane Maria unleashed its Category 4 strength on Puerto Rico and unbridled devastation ensued, leaving much of the island in ruin. Now, a widescale humanitarian effort is managing the aftermath of the storm. As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico is similar yet unique when compared to the states. Nearly 3.5 million U.S. citizens live in Puerto Rico. As U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans can travel without a passport to and from the continental United States.
Hurricane Irma's Category 5 Power Crushes U.S. Virgin Islands
Editor's Note: This editorial is an account written by AAOS Fellow Jeffrey M. Chase, MD, who rode out Hurricane Irma in his house on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas. Irma, a category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds of 180 MPH and gusts up to 220 MPH, roared across the United States and British Virgin Islands (BVI) on Sept. 6, 2017. It was the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history.
Medical Community Unifies in Response to Shooting
When a gunman perched on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas rained gunfire on the crowd attending a Sunday night country music concert, the scores of wounded began flooding the city's emergency departments. Orthopaedic surgeons stepped up to provide care for the injured. Amid the chaos and the carnage, the patients arrived at area hospital, sometimes five to a vehicle, in ambulances, limousines, and pickup trucks pressed into service, many driven by valiant civilians.