Emory Report
September 19, 2005
Volume 58, Number 4


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September 19, 2005
Efforts continue in Emory College, EHC

By Eric Rangus and Chanmi Kim

More than three weeks after the most devastating natural disaster to hit the United States in a century, Emory is continuing to assist in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Emory College
Emory College hosted a Sept. 12 orientation for undergraduates displaced by the hurricane and attending Emory with transient status. The students, some of whom carried all their possessions with them, came from Louisiana’s Dillard, Loyola, Tulane and Xavier universities.

A planning team including representatives from the College, Campus Life, Emory Libraries, Information Technology and the offices of the registrar, admission and parking had less than a week to plan the event.

Students (and, in some cases, their parents) received a crash course in Emory academics, featuring academic advisers, college deans and orientation leaders who came out of “retirement” following the completion last month of their duties introducing freshmen to campus.

“We wanted them to feel connected to the University both academically and socially,” said Jason Breyan, director of academic advising.

College and Campus Life administrators took part in a panel discussion, after which the students were trained in OPUS, then registered for classes. They picked up Emory Cards and parking passes, had lunch, went on a library tour and by Tuesday, Sept. 13, were seated in Emory classrooms.

Breyan said administrators will keep an eye on these new students so resources can be provided quickly should they need a helping hand. “We heard so many personal stories of tragedy that we’ve decided to continue trying to build community through events and support groups,” he said.

Emory Healthcare
Twice a day throughout most of September, 20 representatives from across Emory Healthcare (EHC)—doctors, nurses and administrators—have met via conference call to keep each other informed on their efforts.

Since the call for Katrina assistance went out, some 300 EHC faculty, staff and students have given of their time and expertise. Over the past week, much of those efforts have focused on maintaining Emory’s presence at evacuee “megacenters” spread across the Atlanta area. The megacenters, one-stop service centers for Katrina evacuees, enroll hurricane victims into the American Red Cross system to help distribute to food, clothing and medical supplies, as well as provide access to 12 state and federal agencies. One of them, in College Park, closed last week, but Emory maintains its work in centers in Gwinnett and Cobb counties.

EHC also has ensured special needs patients—transplant recipients, for instance—receive the proper amount of care.

Gary Teal, senior associate vice president for health affairs, said while things remain remarkably busy, they have stabilized. “This has been perhaps our quietest day in the last two weeks,” Teal said on Wednesday, Sept. 14. “But we’re wondering if this is going to continue or if it’s just a calming period before it picks back up again.”

Teal said rumors have flown around about whether Atlanta will receive a new influx of evacuees and, if they come, how many. The only thing Emory can do, he said, is have a plan in place no matter what the future holds.

Teal said that the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing has taken on a significant role at the Salvation Army’s headquarters on North Druid Hills Road, which is serving as a shelter. The nursing school is taking the lead on recruiting and scheduling nurses and nursing students to provide round-the-clock triage for anyone who comes into the center for support. As of last Wednesday, the center housed 30 evacuees, down from a high of 42.

Volunteers include nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students from the school’s faculty, students and alumni, as well as from EHC and other non-Emory nurses. Nurses provide triage, health assessments, first-aid and referrals to physicians or hospitals to ensure evacuees receive the medical care they need. Around 60–70 volunteers have staffed the center.

Wendy Rhein, the nursing school’s director of service learning, serves as point person for the Salvation Army effort. She said that, as far as a learning experience for students, no other service opportunity compares to working at the shelter. “It’s a learning experience for faculty, too,” she said. “This is very different from any other kind of health care setting. We are in a gym at the Salvation Army. People are literally coming in with what they can fit in their cars.”

Rhein said care is now focused on vaccinations, as hepatitis A and tetanus have become concerns because of some evacuees’ exposure to sewage.