But I had to push that aside and focus. I didn’t have the time to feel sorry for anyone right at that moment. I needed to help these people get out of the hospital and to somewhere safe where they could weather the storm.
Jo brought me to a mother who looked like she was right on the edge of panic. Pacing back and forth in front of her daughter’s door, she wrung her hands in front of her and looked around nervously at all the activity. When she saw me, she looked relieved but also desperate. She stepped up quickly and held her hands out to me.
“Dr. Davis, I need to know what’s going on. No one is taking the time to explain anything. Lily is so scared, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to tell her to make her feel better,” she said.
I rested my hand on her shoulder. “Gabby, first, I need you to take a breath. Just take a second and calm down. I know this is a frightening situation and you don’t know what you’re supposed to be thinking or doing right now. That’s not something you want when your daughter is in the hospital,” I said.
She shook her head, still looking anxious but as if just my acknowledgment of what she was going through was helping to bring her back down to Earth a bit. I looked her in the eyes and drew in a deep breath. She mimicked me, and I let the breath out slowly so she would follow suit. It was a technique I often taught to new parents to help them settle upset babies. I showed them how to hold their babies close to their chest and exaggerate long, slow breaths so the baby would follow.
Soon, she was calm and under control.
“Okay,” she said.
“Good. That’s better,” I said. “You need to try to keep it together so that Lily will know everything is alright. She’s going to take her cues from you more than she’s going to take them from me or anyone else around here. Now, there is a very serious storm coming, and the hospital is not equipped to handle it as effectively as we’d like. The new generator isn’t operational, and if there are widespread power outages like are expected, it could cause serious problems.
“We obviously don’t want to face that. Instead, we’re getting ahead of the problem by working with hospitals, clinics, and other facilities to transfer patients on a temporary basis. Just to get through the storm and make sure everyone stays safe and healthy. We’re doing it now to make it as smooth a process as possible.”
“And she’s going to have the right care while she’s there? You’re going to make sure that they know everything they need to?” she asked.
I nodded, rubbing her back as I guided her into her daughter’s room. “Don’t you worry about that. I would not send Lily, or any of my patients, to people I don’t trust. All of her records will be transferred electronically, so they will have access to all the same information I have, plus notes from me. And if there are any questions or any problems at all, they, or you, can get in touch with me.”
Gabby seemed more at ease as she took her spot next to her little daughter’s bed and held her hand. I spent a short time visiting with her, then went on to the next patient. In between patients, I answered questions, signed papers, and made phone calls, trying my best to help with the major undertaking while not losing sight of my patients as individuals.
I’d just left another room and was on my way to another to help coordinate the transfer of a particularly fragile patient when my phone rang.
“Hey, Amanda,” I answered after seeing her name come up on the screen. “How are you doing?”
“I should be the one asking you that question. I heard the hospital is having to evacuate patients to get ready for the storm,” she said. “One of the girls I used to work with told me they’re taking some of them.”
“That’s true,” I said. “The generator wasn’t installed properly and isn’t going to be functional to run the hospital in the event of a power outage during the storm. We can’t risk that happening and the patients not having access to the care they need.”
“No, you can’t,” she agreed. “How is it going?”
“It’s hard. Everybody is a bit frantic.”
“If you think it would make things any easier for you guys, I could come after work and help,” Amanda said.
“Thank you so much. That would be amazing,” I said.
“Great. I’ll see you in a few hours.”
The rest of the day was just as chaotic and frantic as the morning, and it felt fantastic to hug Amanda when she showed up.