When I spoke with my longtime friend Steve Worley, chief executive officer of Children's Hospital of New Orleans, on Tuesday, Aug. 30, with an offer of help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I didn't anticipate the extent of activity that was to come. Just over 24 hours later, we transported 24 pediatric patients and their family members from New Orleans to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
When Steve called back on Wednesday, Aug.31, with a request that some of his hospital's patients be evacuated to our hospital that same day, I felt that military transport aircraft would be needed to accomplish such a large transport quickly. With help from U.S. Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), two C-130s from the Missouri Air National Guard were sent to New Orleans, and 10 members of our critical-care transport team flew to New Orleans to accompany the patients back to Kansas City. They arrived at the hospital at about 11 p.m. on Aug. 31 and were met by a group of our nurses, physicians, social workers, chaplains, child life specialists and others who worked through the night to help the families settle in. At the same time, members of our transport team returned to New Orleans to provide care to other patients from the children's hospital as they were being transported to other hospitals in the region.
Three of the patients brought to Children's Mercy were admitted to our pediatric intensive-care unit, and nine of the 24 did not have any family members with them. We didn't know their parents' whereabouts, but our staff provided additional emotional support for these children and worked diligently with other relief organizations until all of the children's family members were located.
In the two weeks since the transport, our staff has continued to work many hours of overtime assisting these families, finding lodging, providing food and clothing, bringing additional family members to Kansas City and much more. Several of the patients have now been discharged, and we made arrangements for some of them to return to Louisiana. Others are staying in Kansas City for ongoing outpatient care, and we continue to work with those families to make community resources available to them.
I commend the heroic efforts of each and every one of the New Orleans Children's Hospital staff in their quest to ensure the safe and timely evacuation of their patients despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The superb leadership exhibited by Steve Worley in coordinating the evacuation with the various children's hospitals was especially noteworthy.
Children's Mercy has received an unprecedented outpouring of support from the Kansas City community to help meet the needs of our New Orleans patients and their families. We received more than 4,000 calls with offers of housing, clothing, supplies and financial support; our own hospital employees donated more than $25,000 to our Family Support Fund to help these families. I am extremely proud of the entire staff of Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, who all provided extraordinary effort over the past two weeks to extend our mission of caring to encompass the children and families of New Orleans.