HospiceCare of Southeast Florida, Inc. survived Hurricane Wilma. It was a difficult two weeks, but the stories about the patients and staff members are truly amazing and made it all worthwhile. We have so many people and organizations to thank for their above and beyond the call of duty actions.

To the Clinical Staff, you were truly wonderful! We brought five patients up from Key West to be safe in our Green Room in Broward. Monroe staff rented a van and drove the patients to Broward. Staff rearranged the room into a MASH type unit for them, staffing it around the clock, working long hours (12 hour shifts) to care for the patients. The Team Manager for Broward stayed overnight and locked in at the Villa as a resource and leader for the patients and staff. We even evacuated a blind patient who had been left alone, in bed, on the 14th floor of her building on Thursday, October 27th to the Green Room, and we couldn’t have done it without the efforts of AMR Transportation.

Our newly installed generator – tested and tried several times prior to the storm – failed after three hours leaving the entire Broward office and Villa without power for nearly two weeks. The failure was due to a manufacturer’s defect in the generator part of the machine. On November 7th, Baldor, the manufacturer, replaced the entire generator component at their expense.

We do owe a huge thank you to Bryant Electric for the loan of a 30 KW generator for the Villa which powered the entire residence for a week, and provided some lights and all phone service at 309 until the power was restored on Thursday, November 3rd. Our thanks to the City of Fort Lauderdale for sending the Fort Lauderdale Paramedics with ice and water to the office, and to the Villa and to a staff member for the loan of his 5 KW generator that provided the Green Room with light and phones until we got the 30 KW loan generator. We are grateful to all the staff for their help with the power situation, for their electronic expertise in helping us to be able to care for our patients and contact our staff, and for their back-breaking work to clean up the debris in the yard so that FPL and Bell South could access our wires.

A heartfelt thank you to all the non-clinical staff who worked under extremely adverse conditions, doing anything and everything to make sure that our patients and staff were contacted and visited, information shared and supplies ordered and distributed. To those who cooked for the patients, who ran errands, who remembered the non-clinical staff with coffee in the morning, we thank you.

You never know the strength you have until you find yourself in the midst of a crisis. We are strong as a community, as an organization, and as individuals. Just ask our patients and families, the hospitals that we responded to when no one else could, the staff members who were truly grateful for the donation of gas when there was nowhere else to turn. They will tell you that they were honored to be part of solution to a very serious situation. We learned that our Emergency Plan works, and it is the people who always make the difference!