Riding the Storm Out
October 2nd, 2017
Teamwork and Selfless Service in the Face of Adversity
When Hurricane Irma hit, there were 20 clients, 29 staff, 5 dogs, and 2 cats holed up at David Lawrence Center.
The clients, all at our inpatient facility, did not really have the option of leaving, since they need 24/7 care. The staff included everyone from our CEO and facilities director to clinicians , who had all prepared to stay for at least three to four days. And the dogs and cats? Staff members certainly could not leave their furry family members home alone during such a threatening event.
“The pets turned out to be great therapists,” says Michelle Dion, RN, the Detox Nursing Supervisor, who remained at DLC for three days straight. “They helped keep our clients calm through the storm.”
Much of the DLC staff had evacuated before Irma arrived. But the 29 who rode out the storm at the facility banded and bonded together to care for the clients.
“Most people run away from a storm or a fire, and there are very few people who run into it,” says CEO Scott Burgess, who himself remained at DLC for days — before, during, and after. “In my book, they are heroes. Their willingness to potentially sacrifice themselves for our cause and our clients is truly heroic.”
“The teamwork of the staff was remarkable,” adds Mackindy Dieu, Administrative Acute Care Supervisor. “Everybody pitched in, doing what needed to be done. Our clients felt safe the whole time and never felt like anything was wrong.”
The DLC team used not only their professional skills, but their amateur ones too — like when several joined forces to keep water from flooding into one of the buildings. Mops, squeegees, towels, a pump, and some quick patchwork prevented the situation from getting out of control and causing severe damage. While some nearby homes ended up with three feet of water, the water at DLC never even got ankle deep.
“It was all hands on deck, everybody going above and beyond,” says Dieu. “We were like the little engine that could. We just kept going till we got it done.”
DLC had prepared well, with 10 days of food and water on hand. The generator had enough fuel to power half the campus for six days. Many staff members packed their bags for up to a week, planning to stay as long as needed.
“We were well prepared,” says Burgess. “We knew we had a strong team and really skilled professionals. But a crisis tests your mettle to the core. We are used to dealing with ‘normal’ crisis situations every day, but this kind of crisis brought out the best in all of us. And our team raised its game.”
Several staff members praised the work of Mark Stefan, DLC’s Director of Facilities. “He was amazing,” says Dion. “He stayed on top of everything. I cannot praise him enough.”
And Burgess could not praise his staff enough.
“The teamwork and cohesion were terrific,” he says. “We ran like a well-oiled machine. I was honored to serve with them during the storm.”