Ice storms earlier this year bypassed the Washington area, but devastated
parts of the northeastern U.S. CC nurses were among emergency workers answering
the call for help.
CC nurses help during ice-storm emergency
During the "Season of Giving," two Clinical Center nurses gave
much more than gifts to the needy. Susan Orsega and Leslie Stephens gave
Both are CC nurse case managers in the 8th floor clinic and Commissioned
Corps officers in the Public Health Service (PHS). They were deployed to
upstate New York to assist during ice storms that had resulted in numerous
deaths, and partially paralyzed the northeast in early January.
Their specialized training with the USPHS National Disaster Medical System
(NDMS) helped to prepare them for their mission of providing care for individuals
during times of emergencies and natural disasters, but no training could
prepare them for what they saw when they arrived.
"The whole area looked like a battlefield," said LCDR Leslie
Stephens. During her assignment, Stephens traveled approximately fifty miles
every day from Ft. Drum to Cape Vincent, to visit shelters and provide care
for the residents, many of whom were elderly.
Using four-wheel drive vehicles to maneuver the ice-ridden and tree-lined
roads, the team of four, including a physician, a Commissioned Corps nurse,
and two emergency medical technicians, roughed the terrain to provide residents
with medication, oxygen, and other medical supplies.
"We saw all types of medical problems that are involved with living
in close quarters-scabies, lice, flu, bronchitis, and diarrhea," said
Stephens. "But in spite of it all, the community really rallied together
resources and endured rough situations. They were truly resilient,"
Similarly, LT Susan Orsega can attest to the horrific condition of the
area in upstate New York that she called home for over a week. But unlike
Stephens, her assignment was a stationary one, at E.J. Nobel Hospital in
Since the storm hit, the hospital had been running well over its normal
capacity. The number of patients seen in the emergency room-many treated
for carbon monoxide poisoning from kerosene heaters- nearly doubled following
the storm. Hospital staff faced exhaustion as they worked serial 12-hour
Orsega and several other Corps nurses were sent to the hospital to assist
with patient care, and put in their share of long hours and little rest.
Lauded by many as heroes for coming in to assist the community, Orsega instead
applauds the residents and people who helped to restore the power to over
120,000 homes and businesses.
"The real heroes were the people who helped to get the power back
up," she said. Orsega marveled at the order of the town, which continued
in spite of the conditions. "It was really interesting to work with
a small town health-care facility and see how well organized they were and
how they coped with the limited resources that they had prior to the arrival
of the federal government," she said.
"The experience was truly rewarding, both from a Public Health Service
perspective and from a nursing perspective," said Orsega. "I think
all PHS staff should be trained so they can be called upon to help out when
The mission of the PHS Commissioned Corps is to provide highly trained
and mobile health professionals who carry out programs to promote the health
of the nation, understand and prevent disease and injury, assure safe and
effective drugs and medical devices, deliver health service to federal beneficiaries,
and furnish health expertise in time of war or other national or international
emergencies. (by LaTonya Kittles)
CC nurses deployed to upstate New York during ice storms this winter
described the region as "a battlefield."
CC nurse working with a local effort
to design a mental health system
Jean Harris, CC nursing department quality assurance specialist, is lending
her organizational expertise to a local managed-care initiative.
For the past six months, Harris has served as program coordinator for
the District's Behavioral Health Managed Care Initiative, an interagency
program being developed by the D.C. government.
Working at a site downtown, Harris is charged with temporarily leading
the program's development to provide a model for health-care delivery to
individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues. Through the initiative,
the city will be able to better focus resources and enhance services for
approximately 10,000 adults and children.
"This initiative will examine the mental health and substance abuse
health-care delivery system as a whole," said Harris. "The wonderful
thing about the program is that the concepts can apply to other patient
populations, not just mental health patients."
Harris was chosen by the D.C. Commission on Mental Health Services, not
only for her former participation in the program planning process, but also
for her years of nursing and organization systems design experience. She
previously served as president of the D.C. Alliance for the Mentally Ill,
a national education and advocacy group instrumental in passing laws and
evaluating programs developed for consumers of mental health services. Harris
also has experience with assessing the local mental health services through
chairing the D.C. Mayor's Transition Initiative for Adult Mental Health
Services. She has also been active with the NIH community, chairing both
the NIH Diversity Congress Planning Committee, and the NIH Advisory Committee
Through the D.C. initiative, Harris will work closely with the Commission
on Mental Health Services, Commission on Health Care Finance, the D.C. Control
Board, the Mayor's Health Polity Council, as well as community-based consumers,
family members, and mental health care providers. index
The eternal quest: finding a place to park
As the area surrounding Building 10 continues to
be prepped for construction of the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center,
parking remains a major concern for CC staff.
"Although the capacity of employee parking spaces on campus has
actually gone up over the last year, unfortunately, many spaces in or around
Building 10 have been lost and are being replaced further away from the
building," said Stella Serras-Fiotes, Office of Research Services (ORS).
As a result of the lost spaces, as well as input from a campus-wide electronic
survey conducted by the ORS, numerous initiatives have been adopted to address
patient, staff, and visitor concerns.
One such project was the revamping of patient and patient-visitor parking
on the P-3 level. To better accommodate patients and their visitors, attendant-assisted
parking was introduced on the P-3 level in December 1996. Last year, this
approach was adopted for employee parking facilities at MLP-8 and lots 31B
and H, and to consolidated visitor parking near the Natcher Building and
Lot 4A. Through this method, attendants guide cars into empty spots, and
if all spots are full, direct the employees to "stack" their cars
in the aisles. The keys are secured by the attendant and drivers are given
a ticket, which they must produce to claim their car at the end of the visit.
Despite initial uneasiness among NIH staff, the attendant-parking system
has proved convenient for many. One concern was that parkers would have
a long wait at the end of the day when they went to claim their cars, but
instead many have found that they save much more time than driving around
campus looking for a spot.
"Over fifty-five percent of the people in our recent survey said
that they like the service and would like to see it expanded," said
Fiotes. "That's a big culture change for NIH, when there was so much
opposition at first."
Planners are also exploring Building 10 employee-garage parking issues,
but doubt that much can be done to change the number of spaces. "Unfortunately,
we have not been able to address the staff parking as well as the patients'
because of the compounded impact of the garage repair project on the P1
and P2 levels, as well as the CRC construction in the lots north of the
building," said Fiotes.
The number of spaces in lots on the front (north) side of the building
is expected to remain constant, roughly through the fall of this year. A
temporary lot, which provides approximately 110 spaces, has been constructed
on Center Drive, east of the Convent. But as the relocation of Center Drive
nears completion later this year, the remaining lots in front of Building
10 will close.
But, there are other lots available for parking, although not in areas
close to the building. Transportation is available to these spots.
"At least we're at a point where no one can say that there is no
parking on the NIH campus," said Fiotes. "Even on the busiest
day, there are anywhere from 150-200 spaces empty in lot 41.There is shuttle
service from there to any building on campus."
Paid parking, which is available around and within the building, can
also be an option for staff who lose their space after leaving for lunch
or are visiting from an off-site location. "Parking is allowed in all
the pay visitor parking lots for NIH employees as long as they pay,"
Additional options that will be explored include more direct routes for
on- and off-campus shuttle buses, express bus service from more locations,
a volunteer ride bank, and increases in alternative work schedules and telecommuting.
"As we get closer to the construction of the CRC, we will further
review how the project affects staff in Building 10," said Fiotes.
(by LaTonya Kittles) index