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'Big Relief From the Big Easy' Headed to Cedar Rapids Hospital

'Katrina' Staffers from West Jefferson Medical Center and East Jefferson

General Hospital In New Orleans Bringing Aid to St. Luke's Hospital

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, July 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Concerned Emergency Department (ED) staffers from two New Orleans hospitals that operated during Hurricane Katrina will caravan to Iowa this week to aid hospital workers in Cedar Rapids impacted by the Iowa Flood of 2008.

Nicknamed, "Big Relief from the Big Easy," the operation was organized by the Emergency Nurses Association in the New Orleans area. Emergency nurses from five different hospitals in the area will collect diapers, toiletries, food, linens, pet care items and money this week for delivery to 134 St. Luke's Hospital employees displaced from their homes by the flood in Cedar Rapids on June 11-13.

Cheryl Carter, Emergency Department director at East Jefferson General Hospital, Metairie, La., lost her home in the Katrina disaster. She is one of the Emergency Nursing Association members that organized the Iowa effort. As she prepared to make the trip to Cedar Rapids, Carter said that the effort evolved out of empathy for the Iowa flood victims and a desire to pay someone back for the help New Orleans nurses received after Katrina.

"About half of our hospital employees lost their homes in Katrina," Carter said. "When we first heard about the Iowa floods, all of us had flashbacks. We know how your whole life can change in a minute. The cost of losing your home and starting over is amazing. So we decided we had to do something -- we all have a lot of paying back to do."

Carter and ED staffers from East Jefferson General Hospital and the West Jefferson Medical Center will load up the donations and drive from New Orleans to Cedar Rapids, arriving Friday evening, July 11, to deliver the supplies to St. Luke's Resource Center for distribution. On Saturday, July 12, they plan to prepare the traditional Cajun dish, jambalaya, and serve up to 200 displaced hospital employees and other personnel at the St. Luke's Hospital campus.

Only three New Orleans hospitals were able to operate during Katrina, a Category 5 hurricane that struck the Gulf area in 2005. West Jefferson Medical Center and East Jefferson General Hospital were two of those three hospitals. Coincidentally, St. Luke's Hospital was the only hospital able to remain open in Cedar Rapids during the recent Iowa flood, taking in patients from Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, which was forced to close.

In the days following the June flooding, St. Luke's Hospital went into capacity management mode, accommodating up to 100 more patients per day. During the floods, St. Luke's Emergency Room saw their number of patients double. To help with the increase in patients, staffers from hospitals in the Iowa Health System network pitched in to help at St. Luke's in Cedar Rapids.

"We'll be taking tissues for our tears on the trip, because we know the emotions of Katrina will be flooding back," said Carter. "From Katrina, we know that recovery doesn't happen in the first few weeks after a disaster like this. By donating things that made us feel better after Katrina, we can help others feel better after their flood. We want to let them know that we care about them."

Others who wish to donate may call the St. Luke's Health Care Foundation at 319-369-7716 or visit

SOURCE St. Luke's Health Care Foundation
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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