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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Nursing in Post-Flood Ravaged Minot

Published July 11, 2011 8:18 PM by Robin Hocevar
Minot, ND, is no longer featured on the nightly news but, in the aftermath of a record-breaking flood, nurses need encouragement now more than ever.

Though Trinity Health in Minot, ND, was itself out of the danger zone, staff spent more than 2 days preemptively evacuating 240 long-term care patients.  When the Mouse River flooded its banks and a jammed bypass caused 2-hour commute times across town, Trinity expanded a pre-hospital staging area into a 24/7 emergency department, walk-in clinic and mental health resource center.

"Our staff has been fantastic," said Barbra Brown, MA, RN, vice president and chief nursing officer. "More than 500 of our employees lost their own homes, yet they've been here everyday for the patients."

 Amy Braaten, RN, illustrates Brown's statement perfectly. She was one of the 41,000 Minot residents whose home submerged under the mighty waters. Braaten, along with her son, 92-year old grandmother, and dog, moved in with a friend. Taking a personal day isn't even a consideration for Braaten.

"Coming to work has been therapeutic; it's the most normal thing I have going right now," she said. "Everything outside of work is so not normal.  I could sit and feel sorry for myself, but so many are as bad or worse off than me."

With the rebuilding phase just beginning, Trinity administration is mindful of the emotional distress the flood damage could take on its employees. In the last several days, a team of flood survivors from Altru Health System in Grand Forks, ND, shared their experiences during the Red River Flood of 1997.

Brown said her employees greatly benefitted from conversations with the Altru staff, who understand the havoc created by floods. The facility is still operating the Open Your Hearts program to connect displaced employees with another staff member who can provide housing. Even a few weeks after the flood, tears still flow throughout the planning meetings.

There's nothing like a sympathetic ear. Brown thinks her nurses would appreciate hearing from some colleagues in other parts of the country. Nurses are legendary for prioritizing patient care, even while their own families were missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina or homes were destroyed in Joplin, MO. If you have some words of encouragement or even just a heavy heart thinking of the devastation, your colleagues would be buoyed just to read a letter or an email.

Please address your correspondence to:

Trinity Health System

c/o Barbra Brown, vice president and CNO

20 Burdick Expy W # 203
Minot, ND 58701-4498







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