Report from the Astrodome: Baylor's Katrina Medical Clinic with Dr. Kenneth Mattox – Emotional Pro

October 4th, 2005

Dr. Kenneth Mattox is Professor and Vice Chairman of Surgery in the General Surgery Division of the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. He co-led the "Katrina Medical Clinic" set up by Baylor College of Medicine in the Houston Astrodome. A wide range of medical and mental health services was provided to the refugees, sometimes at a rate of 150 per hour! Donations of medical equipment, pharmacy services, countless volunteer hours and even an X-ray machine supported this clinic. Dr. Mattox shares his first-hand experiences and observations, as well as suggestions for more successful disaster preparedness for all of us.

Segment 1: The Astrodome’s Katrina Medical Clinic–What Was Involved
If you had 12-16 hours to set up comprehensive medical care for 23,000 people escaping a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina, would you plan things anywhere near as comprehensively as Dr. Mattox and his colleagues did for the Houston Astrodome? Mental health, warm showers, hot meals, a bottle of water to each as they stepped off the buses, school for the children, x-rays, credentialing and scheduling for medical personnel and ancillary volunteers, beds for the ill, and planning for "what to expect" on days 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and beyond, including an appropriate "exit strategy." Listen to the details that the medical people in Houston attended to in planning to help their New Orleans neighbors!

Segment 2: Hope

How do you overcome despair, grief and suspicion with thousands of frightened people who have just passed through a long and harrowing ordeal as well as lost their possessions, loved ones and homes? Give them HOPE! Listen as Dr. Mattox tells how the people coming through the Astrodome’s Katrina Medical clinic moved from hoarding food and water wearing blank faces to trusting that there was "more" and "enough" and starting to wear smiles–in just 3 days! This is a remarkable achievement. Hear him tell about how they attended to the emotional needs of the volunteer doctors, nurses and other staff, as well. I love his comment that "Common disasters occur commonly."

Segment 3: Tips for Planning for Disaster in Your Area

Dr. Mattox talks about creating an "Integrated Collaborative Network" on a local and regional basis, where neighbors prepare to help neighbors (like Houston did for New Orleans). He recommends we start planning now to help ourselves and our own neighbors through disaster planning and solid thinking. He cites the importance of local levels not expecting outside help for 48-96 hours, which emphasizes local response and understanding local needs and resources BEFORE disaster. He also tells us that he learned that human nature is kinder than he realized; and that "most of us are givers and helpers." Hear Dr. Mattox’s words of wisdom and experience and then APPLY them in your own area of this world!

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