Temple Times Online Edition
    SEPTEMBER 15, 2005
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Med School profs serve in ravaged region


Two School of Medicine faculty members have joined the 8,000 medical professionals responding to the call for personnel to provide care to the areas ravaged by Katrina.

William DeLong, professor of orthopedic surgery and a graduate of the School of Medicine, was deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a member of its International Medical Surgical Response Team (IMSuRT). It’s his first assignment with IMSuRT, which operates as a portable medical unit complete with nurses, pharmacists, internists and surgical teams.

Christopher Born, also an orthopedic surgeon at Temple and member of IMSuRT, served in Iran last year to help earthquake victims.

DeLong is expecting to serve for a two-week period in the New Orleans area.


Jeff Kochan, associate professor of radiology and neurosurgery, felt compelled to take action based on his experience as a victim of Hurricane Andrew during medical training in Miami. Kochan secured a volunteer position on a team sanctioned by the Louisiana State Board of Medicine and is based at the Emergency Operation Center in Baton Rouge. He arrived Sept. 4 and has offered to stay up to several weeks, as needed.

Michael Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services, reported that about 40 healthcare facilities have been established in the affected areas. He believes there will be a continued demand for resources over an extended period of time, as the current teams are cycled out of the emergency centers.

Additionally, at the request of the National Institutes of Health, Medical School Dean John Daly, along with medical school deans across the country, appointed a response unit to assist the NIH in providing relief to patients displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The unit was called to assist with evacuees arriving in Philadelphia this week.

- By Eryn Jelesiewicz

Prof. Jeff Kochan: A Dispatch from New Orleans

School of Medicine faculty member Jeffrey Kochan is currently serving on a medical team sanctioned by the Louisiana State Board of Medicine and based at the Emergency Operation Center in Baton Rouge.  He arrived Sept. 4 and has offered to stay up to several weeks as needed.

Although communications with that region is difficult, Kochan recently answered some questions by e-mail about his experiences and observations.

Q: What drove you to volunteer in Louisiana?
A:   I couldn't watch it on TV anymore and not do something.

Q: What is a typical day like?
A: Assignments are posted by 5 a.m. and we depart by 6 a.m.

Q: What is the general attitude among the rescue and medical workers?
A: Emotions run the full gamut ...   frustration at the amount of politics, tension about working under possible sniper attack, elation when we find survivors and are able to get them out, empathy when we talk to the victims and hear all their horrifying stories, anger when faced with pointless delays ...   The general atmosphere is optimism and exhaustion.

Q: What exactly are you doing?
A: We work in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the National Guard, the Army, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and local boat operators. We search a grid of streets, rescue those we can, note the dead for later recovery. The NOPD, Army and National Guard provide armed protection as we cover the search area.   We've searched mostly impoverished areas in Jefferson and Orleans parishes.

Q: What kinds of medical conditions and problems are you seeing?
A: Trauma, dehydration and general medical problems that have gone without attention since the storm ... a wide variety of skin lesions from prolonged contact with the contaminated water.

Q: How are you treating them?
A: Medical and minor surgical management, vaccinations and just letting them talk and vent.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge so far?
A: Getting work done in the face of overwhelming politics.

Q: How are you holding up physically and emotionally?

Q: What health risks are you facing?
A: Infections and disease from contact with the water.

Q: Who are your colleagues?
A: There are docs, nurses, paramedics and EMTs from every state in the union.