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An ‘Army Of People’ Helps Houston Cancer Patients Get Treatment

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center had 528 patients in a sanatorium as Harvey hit. A group of about 1,000 people tended to them and their families until reinforcements arrived Monday.

Courtesy of MD Anderson Cancer Center


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Courtesy of MD Anderson Cancer Center

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center had 528 patients in a sanatorium as Harvey hit. A group of about 1,000 people tended to them and their families until reinforcements arrived Monday.

Courtesy of MD Anderson Cancer Center

As rains battered Houston on Sunday, Dr. Karen Lu took to Twitter and conveyed both alarm and reassurance: “Roads around @MDAndersonNews impassable. Our on-site float out group is caring for patients and we are all safe.”

Lu is a highbrow of gynecologic oncology and halt arch medical officer during a University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, a tip cancer sanatorium and investigate center. Earlier that morning, a sanatorium had sent a high-water car — a box lorry — to Lu’s neighborhood, and she walked 8 blocks by flooded streets to accommodate it.

The charge forced a sanatorium to tighten to outpatients. Surgeries, chemotherapy and deviation diagnosis and other appointments were put on reason for a 13,000 people MD Anderson sees any week.

Inside a hospital, doctors, nurses, technicians and comforts and food use staff were gripping things using for some-more than 500 inpatients and their families.

Lu spoke to Morning Edition host Mary Louise Kelly as a sanatorium was changeable into liberation mode Thursday.

This speak has been edited for length and clarity.

When a H2O was highest, what did that demeanour like?

The categorical highway that leads to a sanatorium was a stream of about 4 feet of water.

Amazingly, a buildings withstood a storm. Over a final decade, a Texas Medical Center has re-engineered a area so that there are floodgates that go up, and that unequivocally stable a buildings. There were no studious caring areas that were impacted by a storm.

You have a ride-out team, that refers to staff who have concluded to stay put and float out a storm. How did that work?

We had about a thousand staff here. The unsung heroes in this disaster are a nurses, a lab techs, a pharmacy techs, a food services, a confidence who kept [everyone] safe.

We had 528 patients who were in a sanatorium on Sunday morning and substantially another integrate hundred family members. We were unequivocally means to caring for these unequivocally ill individuals. There was no concede in a ability to caring for them.

What about those outpatients whose appointments were canceled?

[Thursday] morning, we changed to singular outpatient services.

We’ve had a teams, even while they have been during home, going by and looking during who urgently needs treatment. So already yesterday, we were means to residence these obligatory needs — in surgery, for chemotherapy as good as deviation therapy.

When we speak about surgery, it’s not only a surgeon. It’s a [operating room] nurse. It’s a surgical tech. It’s a people who emasculate a instruments. So, while we can have a surgeon on site, it’s all those other group members that it unequivocally takes.

So yesterday, we tested to be means to see that we could safely yield care, and we were means to do dual OR cases, we were means to provide over 50 people for radiation, and we were means to provide about 35 unequivocally ill [leukemia patients] who indispensable blood products.

And today, we’re ramping adult and doing more. And there’s an army of people perplexing to strech out to patients to get them rescheduled.

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Your staff during a sanatorium is apparently only as influenced as everybody else.

Absolutely. Prior hurricanes have impacted a buildings. Other hurricanes have impacted a investigate enterprise, a laboratory animals. we have to contend what Harvey’s impacted is a staff. And that’s what’s so heartbreaking. We trust that somewhere between 30 [and] 60 percent of a workforce has been impacted by Harvey — people whose homes have been flooded and who have been asked to evacuate.

Have we done it home given Sunday?

I have. And I’m glad, since we unequivocally need a transparent conduct to lead a group to recovery. We’re energized here during MD Anderson. Our patients are a focus, and we know that they need us.

Morning Edition editor Gail Austin and producers Maria Paz Gutierrez and David Fuchs contributed to this story.