August 29, 2005 is a date that we will forever remember. A date that forever changed our city, our hospital, our people. This week marks 15 years since Hurricane Katrina struck the Louisiana coast, a devastating Category 3 storm that left 80 percent of New Orleans underwater.
Fifteen years later, we remember the more than 1,200 lives that were lost. We remember the heroism that took place as our flooded city continued emergency evacuation efforts after the levees broke. We remember and honor our healthcare heroes, who put the safety of patients and families first.
Katrina made landfall across Southeast Louisiana on a Sunday evening. By Wednesday, it was clear that the city had experienced total devastation. Children’s Hospital was without water, and unrest across the city was growing. CEO Steve Worley announced a hospital-wide evacuation, and an unprecedented, nationwide effort to save our patients began.
In the midst of fear and uncertainty, our team members put the needs of patients first.
By 8 am Thursday morning, all 100 patients were safely evacuated to 14 different hospitals and health systems across the country including Mercy Children's Hospital in Kansas City and Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami. For the first time in our history, the doors of Children’s Hospital closed as team members made their way through the treacherous streets of New Orleans to safety.
For nearly six weeks, beginning just days after the evacuation, Children’s Hospital operated from temporary offices in Baton Rouge. The new focus was connecting patients with their pediatricians and specialists from outpatient clinics in Baton Rouge and Lafayette where care for patients continued.
The hospital reopened on October 10, 2005. In its first week, 267 emergency room visits were recorded, 65 patients were admitted, and 37 surgeries were preformed. Almost 250 patients visited the outpatient clinic at the hospital, while others were cared for in Metairie, Baton Rouge and of Louisiana cities. By November 3, all employees and medical staff were called back to work to continue the vital work of our hospital – and to build a healthier future for children.
Please take a moment to watch stories from some of our team members, and from one physician from a hospital in Kansas City that took in many of our patients.