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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Another NOLA Dispatch From Dr. Henderson

The September 2 Wilmington Morning Star has a followup on the dispatch from Dr. Greg Henderson, the academic pathologist who has been in downtown New Orleans since the hurricane started:
Authorities threw everyone out of the Ritz Carlton on Canal Street, and tried to relocate him to Ochsner Clinic, where he works and the site of the only operating hospital in New Orleans. However, Dr. Henderson went to the Sheraton, also on Canal Street and home of temporary police headquarters. He refuses to leave, he said, because people are sick and dying all around him.

“There’s no rule of law here,” he said. Reports of violence, even rape, are coming from the Superdome and the convention center. Isolated groups of police are doing the best they can, and the National Guard is overwhelmed. Gunfire on the streets around him is a regular occurance. There is no water or food – Dr. Henderson last night had not eaten in a day and a half.

He has turned the bar into a makeshift hospital. He desparately needs primary care supplies, and Wilmington service providers have risen to that challenge. Today, PPD’s corporate airplane is taking a load of supplies to New Orleans, with plans re in place for a helicopter to get them to the Superdome and to Dr. Henderson. Wilmington Health Associates contributed a great deal of medical supplies. PPD did the same, as well as food and water. The medical center contributed, as did other physicians’ offices in the area. The supplies will be on their way this afternoon.

Dr. Henderson said the situation is unimaginably bad. Down the street from him are dead bodies in plain view. He is the only physician in at least a seven-block area – the HIV physicians who were at the Ritz Carlton earlier evacuated when they were given the opportunity. He readily admits he is a pathologist, not a primary care doctor, but he is trying to manage.

He said the streets are full of newly homeless people who are desperate. Many have stolen guns.

“I go out in the street and take care of them,” he said. “When the gunfire stops, I see who needs help and who doesn’t.”

He took care of one man who was in shock. He was taking care of his sick wife while his daughter drowned.

“It everybody’s worst nightmare,” he said. “I cannot over-exaggerate it.”

He’s been in touch with this family and they know he is alive. But we wants to stay where he is as long as there is a need. He describes his plight now to someone starting a clinic in a third-world country.

“Any and all you can help will save a lot of people,” he said.
On one right-leaning blog, an apparently regular commenter is referencing Henderson's earlier post in an attempt to blame local officials for various failings -- in an overt attempt to exonerate President Bush for any wrongdoing in the past week (and his administration in the weeks and months leading up to the storm).

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