Remembering Heroes: 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina
Ten years ago, one of the worst disasters to hit the Gulf Coast left thousands of dialysis patients without medical care. Hurricane Katrina disabled all but one Fresenius Medical Care center, but for the 5,000 patients across the region who weathered the storm, its resilience shone like a beacon through the dark.
"Everybody was just trying to make heads or tails of what was going on," Katrina, RN Clinic Manager at the Orange Grove Mississippi center, said. Thousands of dialysis patients arrived in the wake of the disaster. Power lines were down and supplies were dwindling, but "we knew we had to get it done and we just did it."
In the face of such a challenge, Fresenius Medical Care had to act as a team. While staff on the ground worked around the clock, corporate managers acted fast to provide support.
"The one thing that we really needed to overcome was the fact that our staff, who were going to have to take care of these patients, had lost their homes," Gulf Coast group VP Jeff said. "Being able to help these people overcome so that they could help their patients overcome was something that I'll never forget."
The company sent food, clothing, and supplies, and arranged a caravan of 20 mobile homes for staff and patients. The community that grew from the makeshift living quarters came to be known as Fresenius Village. It ran for over a year and housed more than 200 nurses and their families.
"We supported the people on the ground," regional VP of Mississippi-South East Louisiana Tim said. "It was one team, one group, with one purpose. And the purpose was no longer survival. The one singular focus was patient care."
It was with this support from Fresenius Medical Care that the skilled nurses could maintain their incredible stamina.
"Knowing that the patients were here, they saw a smile on my face every day," unit secretary Katy said. "The shifts were 12-15 hours. That pace was steady, it didn't stop. And once somebody got off, someone else got back on."
Despite losing their homes and all personal possessions, the Fresenius Medical Care staff came to work every day. For the patients, this dedication did not go unnoticed.
"I feel like they're my family, like they're my team support," patient Peggy Faye said.
"They did everything they could to help me, especially with me having so many health problems," patient Donald said. "It was a relief to see a face that you really cared to see and that you depended on. You knew they were going to be there for you."
In true Fresenius Medical Care style, the Orange Grove staff saved thousands of patients, and chief executives monitored their needs so they could carry on.
"I've never seen such an outpouring of love from staff and their patients in a company," Gulf Coast quality field VP Dianne said.
Fresenius Medical Care's disaster response program is designed to handle catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina, but it is the company culture that makes it such a rewarding place to work year round. Our RNs are supported from above and below so that they can do what matters most: saving lives one day at a time.
To learn more about our efforts during Hurricane Katrina, watch this video: