Team of Utah Doctors Returns from Helping in Louisiana

Team of Utah Doctors Returns from Helping in Louisiana


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Jed Boal ReportingA University of Utah Medical team has spent the past two weeks in Baton Rouge and New Orleans treating Hurricane Katrina survivors and emergency workers.

The team of 11 physicians and 15 nurses got home Saturday after a grueling expedition in extraordinary conditions. Today they reflected on the care they gave, the people they helped and what they learned.

One week after Hurricane Katrina shattered the Gulf Coast a University of Utah Medical team answered a plea for helped from Louisiana State University and rolled up their sleeves in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Steven Bott, M.D., University of Utah Medical Center: "The team we brought down there were all veterans in their areas of expertise, but nobody's done anything like this."

They worked from an abandoned K-Mart, turning 1,000 beds into a makeshift hospital; it was organized chaos.

Scott Nielson, R.N., University of Utah Medical Center: "You do the best you can with what you have, and that's what everyone was doing."

They moved on to a field house at LSU and worked last week in New Orleans. They helped victims and emergency workers who'd worked non-stop for more than a week.

Steven Bott, M.D., University of Utah Medical Center: "Lost everything they'd ever owned. They had the clothes on their backs, and nothing else. They'd been in the Superdome for a week of hell. They'd been in the Convention Center for a week of hell, people dying around them."

Team members treated cuts and helped people with medical conditions. They saved lives in ways they never expected.

Julie Smit, R.N., University of Utah Medical Center: "We saved those lives by holding hands and by hearing these people's stories that they needed to tell."

To help people who'd lost everything gave them new insight about their own lives.

Carrie O'Hara, R.N., University of Utah Medical Center: "Stuff is just stuff, it can be replaced, but our relationships with our families, our spouses, our children, are what really keep and really take with us."

They learned a lot about disaster management and plan to share that knowledge.

Steven Bott, M.D./University of Utah Medical Center: "What we experienced was nothing compared to what they went through."

Members of the medical relief team were also struck by the hospitality they were shown, despite the devastation. The people they met wanted to help them so they could help others.

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