Covenant Children's NICU nurses help with evacuations ahead of Hurricane Harvey

Covenant Children's NICU nurses help with evacuations ahead of Hurricane Harvey

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Two Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses are back in Lubbock Friday after flying to Corpus Christi to aid in evacuation efforts ahead of Hurricane Harvey's landfall expected early Saturday.

Sally Dillashaw, RNC-NICU is Covenant Children's Specialty Transport Team coordinator, said an evacuation plan was put together after Hurricane Katrina.

"Our state was not very prepared to help those people evacuate," Dillashaw said. "It kinda makes me cry."

Dillashaw became emotional when recalling how nurses had to stay with NICU babies for several days after evacuations were not done quick enough during Hurricane Katrina. She said this time was different.

"When they called us yesterday, we knew just from weather reports that landfall wasn't going to happen until (Friday night) probably around midnight," Dillashaw said. "They had put that plan into action 72 hours ahead of time, 'Hey, we have to do a mandatory evacuation of all of these patients.'"

An EagleMed flight crew from Liberal, Kansas came to Lubbock to take the Covenant nurses and their specialized equipment to Corpus Christi. The nurses credit the flight crew with transporting them safely and being constantly prepared and ready.

"We actually picked up a baby that was born (Thursday) at 1:30," Dillashaw said. "He was really really cute and tiny. We picked him up and put him on a ventilator. We put him on special pumps and flew him to Methodist Hospital in San Antonio."

The nurses said they were a small part of a larger, collaborative effort with transport teams coming from all over the state and surrounding areas. They were impressed with the organization and professionalism of the evacuation.

"When we left we didn't know what baby we were picking up. We didn't have a clue what we were going into. We just knew we had room for one baby and we would be able to take the sickest of the sickest or even a baby that was doing well," Reid Fry, RN-PICU, said. "Luckily, when we got there they had one patient left that was ventilated that did need our specific transport team. We went in thinking things were going to be chaotic and to be honest things were very calm and it was better off than what we had imagined."

"All of the babies got out of there safely," Dillashaw said. "There were 3 babies left when we left. There were other teams coming in to get those children out. Then the nurses were going to get all the adult patients out and then get out themselves."

The nurses said the mother of the baby they transported was set to be transported with those adult patients shortly after.

Covenant's team was ready for whatever the experience brought and say it's all part of a career they are passionate about.

"I've devoted my life to taking care of critically ill babies and children," Fry said. "Keeping them safe is Covenant's priority and my priority in my practice of making sure everyone is safe and taken care of."

"That's all of I've done is 32 years of taking care of newborn babies," Dillashaw said. "This is a blessing for me."

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