We have all been watching the devastating aftermath of the widespread flooding in Louisiana the past few weeks. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those who are affected and to all those who risked their own lives to bring aid and comfort. When the American Red Cross put out the call for medical care, nurses of all levels did not hesitate to respond from across the USA and internationally.

These volunteer nurses  faced a tremendous need. Survivors made homeless by the flooding had been divided by the Louisiana Department of Public Health into shelters ranging from “general” to “special needs.” Those in the special needs shelters were home bound, chronically ill or disabled, and in need of medical or nursing care. Those with more critical needs had been referred to hospitals.

So what does a nurse to help hundreds who have lost their homes and all their possessions? They do whatever is needed in that day—or to be exact, that minute. They try to fill in the gaps left in people’s lives while helping each patient with their immediate and long-term medical needs. Each patient has different needs, some physical, some emotional and some both. For example, one of the shelter residents told a nurse that he had returned to his apartment only to find his possessions tattered and in the street. The only thing he recovered was a photo of his family. The nurse sat with him and held his hand. She told him, “I’m sorry for your loss, but I’m thankful you survived. I’m honored to be here with you.” In that moment, it was enough.

Of course, Louisiana nurses have been on the front lines of the flooding, providing care to those in need in the same way they did during Hurricane Katrina.  Despite being affected by flooding in their own homes, they never hesitated to put aside their  personal needs to look after others.

This response, from both local nurses and those who came to Louisiana specifically to help, is the ” Courageous Heart of Nursing” in action.

From all of us at Barco’s Nightingales Foundation, thank you.

~Michael and Frida Donner