The first of three teams of Long Island clinicians being deployed by Northwell Health has returned from Houston, after spending a week relieving overwhelmed staff at a major cancer center impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
“I don’t find myself a superhero,” said Dory Harvey, a registered nurse at Plainview Hospital, who came home Monday after volunteering. “I just think I did what a lot of us would’ve done given the opportunity.”
Harvey, 56, of Hicksville, was one of 40 volunteers, including physicians, oncology nurses and technicians, in the first deployment. She traveled to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center on Sept. 4 and worked 12-to-13-hour shifts in the cancer center’s emergency room for a week.
As the storm hovered over Houston, MD Anderson created an emergency “ride-out” team of 1,000 employees who stayed on-site for several days to provide care for its patients — 538 in the hospital and 15 in the emergency center Still, about 35 percent of its 20,000-person workforce were forced to evacuate or attend to their homes, according to an MD Anderson news release.
“Many of their employees are unable to commute to work because of the flooding,” said Michael Dowling, Northwell Health’s president and CEO, in a news release. “Many others have been working nonstop for nearly a week to care for patients. Their staff requires relief so they can attend to their personal needs in the aftermath of this devastating storm.”
Harvey said that she is accustomed to working in an emergency room, but because MD Anderson is cancer-specific, the experience was harrowing. Most patients she cared for were dying.
“As I was drawing blood from a woman,” Harvey said, “a doctor was in the room telling the patient that the cancer had metastasized [spread] to her lungs.”
Northwell will send 120 clinicians over a three-week period, and continues to monitor the needs of Houston hospitals.