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SA doctors, nurses volunteer to treat patients at Harvey shelters

Bexar County Medical Society puts out call for physician volunteers

SAN ANTONIO – Shelters housing Hurricane Harvey evacuees are not just a place for them to eat and sleep. They've become places for them to seek medical care, too. 

Metro Health is operating medical clinics at each shelter where doctors and nurses are volunteering their time to treat patients. 

Dr. Stephen Ramirez normally works out of a practice in Stone Oak.

But for the past two days, he's been volunteering his time at a shelter on the Southeast Side, working during his lunch break, and after seeing his last patient on the North Side.

"When Katrina happened, everyone else said 'No, not in our backyard.' And Houston said 'Yes, welcome,'" Ramirez said. "I think its our turn to do the same to Houston and to Corpus Christi where I'm from."

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Officials operating the shelter have asked that the location not be disclosed. 

At the facility where Ramirez is volunteering, the 175 evacuees from the Coastal Bend are sleeping on cots lined up row after row inside a warehouse-like building.

The space borders a working bakery that provides goods to a local school district. 

Tables are set up to create a cafeteria space where evacuees eat meals. Supplies are stacked high in boxes. Red Cross volunteers are busy sorting supplies and manning a sign-in desk. Volunteers set up a makeshift day care where children staying in the shelter can color and play. 

A section of cots outside the medical clinic is roped off with caution tape. That area is designated for evacuees who need more extensive medical care. 

Ramirez says most people come to the clinic with routine conditions such as colds and coughs, like Mr. Odom who evacuated Corpus Christi. 

"You see things on TV and you kind of don’t know what people go through until you're actually going through it," he said. "So now I see the struggle."

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"I appreciate everything they did for us," said Juanita Arzola. "I am from Corpus Christi and I give thanks to San Antonio."

Ramirez says the Bexar County Medical Society is asking for physicians to volunteer their time at shelters around San Antonio, especially as more evacuees from Houston are expected to arrive. 

Click here to volunteer.

"You don't know what to expect, but it’s heartwarming," said Ramirez. "You see human love at its utmost and its most basic."


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