JACKSON, Tenn. – May 9, 2003 – In addition to losing homes and belongings as a result of the tornado which struck Jackson on May 5, a number of residents lost prescription medicines, blood sugar testing equipment and access to medical care.
Ten Union University nursing students and four of their professors spent May 9 working to meet those needs for individuals at the Red Cross shelter operating at West Jackson Baptist Church.
According to Tharon Kirk, chair of the school of nursing, the students were able to check blood sugar levels, dress wounds, provide over the counter medications for minor ailments and diagnose and refer those who needed further treatment. They also made numerous calls to doctors’ offices tracking down prescription information, she said.
“Their pharmacies were destroyed, so we have to get the doctors’ records and find a way to get new prescriptions for them,” said Kirk.
“They’ve been taking good care of us,” said Wilbert Robertson, a diabetic who had his blood sugar tested by the nursing students. A resident of the New Southern Hotel, Robertson said his room was one of the few in that building which were not damaged. The windows of his truck, however, were broken as it was picked up from its street side parking space in front of the building and deposited on the sidewalk, he said.
Robert Bowman, also a resident of the New Southern, had his blood pressure checked by the student nurses. “Sometimes it just shoots up,” he said, “but right now it’s just where is should be.”
“I try to stay calm, cool and collected,” said Bowman, a World War II veteran. “That’s a lot easier if you’ve been through a war.”
The New Southern Hotel received extensive damage, and neither man had been informed as to when or if they would be able to return to their homes.
In addition to medical treatment, the students worked to ease the fears and sadness of these victims of the storm.
“Not everyone needs medical help, but they do need emotional and spiritual help,” said junior Lauren Murphy. “It’s a different kind of nursing.”
“Usually, after medical treatment a person goes home. In this situation, you have to be very conscious of what they are going back to,” she said.
“It’s a lot less controlled environment [than we are used to],” said Van Barnett, also a junior. “It’s the real world, and we are coming to people where they are. You just have to do what needs to be done.”