Memorial Regional Hospital saw its patient load nearly quadruple during Hurricane Irma.
Normally, we serve about 2,500 meals a day. The first day of Hurricane Irma, we ended up serving over 18,000 meals.
We also provided day care for our employees who sheltered with us during the storm so they didn't have to leave their children. And we had first responders who sheltered in with us.
Early in the morning, I was down by the ER, and there were probably 20 police officers. The first thing they wanted when the cafeteria opened was to get a hot meal.
It's amazing to see them out on the roads; they're working in inclement weather. We sent meals out to them. We gave them water. We did whatever it took.
When you're sheltered in, everybody's nerves are a little high. Our production is 24/7. But what was incredible during this storm ... I went to our command center and said, “Look, we're going to need a little help. We need some volunteers to come down and help make some sandwiches.”
I had the head of anesthesia and the head of our physician intensivist program show up with their teams. There were no lines or delineation. Everybody was there to help us because they realized that we were struggling to get these 18,000 meals prepared. I had so many volunteers coming down, and it was just incredible.
Several years ago, I had to report to the hospital when we were preparing for Hurricane Wilma. One of my dear friends said to me, “Why are you reporting to the hospital? You don't take care of patients, you're not a nurse not a doctor.”
I looked at the individual and I said, “I'm responsible for all the food and water that comes into the facility.” And they stared at me. There wasn't that connection. People forget about the whole support team that keeps the building running.