Local nurses respond to Florida disaster efforts

  From Staff Reports
  The Tennessee Department of Health is dispatching public health nursing volunteers to hurricane-ravaged Florida to help staff special needs shelters. The Florida Department of Health reached out to public health agencies in nearby states to request assistance with manning the shelters, which provide refuge for people who need help with a health or medical condition during a disaster.
  Four public health nurses from the Northeast Tennessee Region have responded to the call and are now in Florida.
  * Charlene Jesse, Regional Nursing Supervisor, from the Northeast Regional Health Office. Jesse is a resident of Sullivan County.
  * Shirley Hughes, an emergency response coordinator from the Northeast Regional Health Office. Hughes is a resident of Elizabethton.
  * Donna Burleson, a public health nurse for the Carter County Health Department and a resident of Carter County.
  * Kathy Sandidge, a nursing supervisor of the Hawkins County Health Department and a resident of Hawkins County.
  Fifty public health nurses, nursing supervisors and nursing support staff from across the state who work for the Department of Health will depart at noon on Tuesday from Nashville via military transport. The volunteers will fly to Orlando, where they will be deployed to various shelter locations. The nursing staff will work 12-hour shifts and are expected to return Sept. 15, 2004.
  With Florida struggling with the impact of back-to-back hurricanes, the relief nurses are desperately needed to ensure adequate coverage of the shelters. "We're pleased to be able to respond quickly to the call for help and to contribute to Florida's disaster recovery efforts," said State Health Commissioner Kenneth Robinson, MD. "In the true tradition of the Volunteer State, we had 80 volunteers within hours -- even more than were needed." Under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, the State of Florida will reimburse Tennessee for the nurses' salary and travel costs.
  The shelters are designed to care for people with minor health or medical conditions that require professional care or observation, people with contagious conditions that require precautions or isolation that cannot be handled in general shelters, people who require assistance with activities of daily living but don't need hospitalization, and those who need professional assistance with medications or vital sign readings.