SAN ANTONIO – While each of us was living in our own deep freeze drama during the snowstorms of February, the pediatric staff at UT Health San Antonio were fighting their own battle against the forces of nature. They made sure that the most medically fragile children in San Antonio were not abandoned in the power outages, and as a result, they will likely live to tell about it.
The children’s survival, even on the best of days, depends on electricity. With the power out, bitterly cold houses and no water, the pediatric team for the most medically complex pediatric population began to worry. Some of these patients suffered extreme prematurity and suffer from neurological impairment. Their level of care is extraordinary, but technology allows them to be at home with their families instead of living out their childhoods at the hospital.
“They are a handful of our population, but they need power for all of their life-sustaining equipment -- so things like ventilators, feeding pumps, machines that help with their breathing treatments. All of the equipment requires electricity,” said Dr. Wisdeen Wu, assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Health San Antonio.
Even though the medical professionals were also stuck at home in the weather emergency, the team began a project of logging in, calling and making arrangements for the patients they knew were at risk of not surviving.
“I have a great team of nurses and medical assistants, even our dietician, social worker, all of us. It was a team effort. We just wanted to make sure that we could get these patients where they needed to be,” Wu said.
From getting pharmacy refills to even arranging backup hotel rooms, the team soon learned how ill-prepared they were for an emergency of this nature. As a result, a new level of preplanning will likely be created.
“I think we need a lot more emergency planning. I mean, we did not anticipate that power would go out. I feel like we could have maybe prepared the families a little bit more in terms of these are the things you need to have if you’re stuck at home,” Wu said.
She also takes her hat off to her patients’ families, who she says were very resourceful under stress.