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UB nursing travels downstate to care for those in aftermath of Sandy

by jmaloni

Press release

Mon, Nov 5th 2012 01:00 pm

The University at Buffalo School of Nursing is on the frontlines of community service once again. This time, nursing faculty and students are helping the sick and injured during the aftermath of "Super Storm" Sandy downstate.

Joann M. Sands, MS, RN, UB clinical instructor of nursing, traveled Thursday with seven UB nursing students to Yaphank, on Long Island, to assist with caregiving for patients who have conditions serious enough to travel to an emergency room but who are not so acutely ill that they would have to be admitted to the hospital.

"We're setting up a medical relief area so that we can take the overflow from local ERs," Sands said.

Sands was speaking from the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility where cots were set up in preparation for the patients she was awaiting. The UB team will be based on Long Island for five days. 

Sands, who is a specialist in disaster and emergency response, is part of New York's Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT. She got an email late Wednesday night from CERT that she was to be "activated" to assist with health care relief for patients downstate in the aftermath of Sandy.

She and Susan Grinslade, Ph.D., RN, UB chair of undergraduate nursing, both participate in the "UB 2020 Strategic Strength" "Extreme Events: Mitigation and Response" and together they worked to get the word out that they needed nursing student volunteers.

"We chose senior nursing students because they are studying public health nursing and there is no better way to learn about public health needs than during a disaster such as this," Sands said.

The email went out to nursing students late on Thursday morning and, by 2:30 p.m., Sands and seven seniors were packed up and headed to Albany where they would then be deployed to Long Island.

UB nursing students Lyndsey Conway, Katie Crudele, Priscilla Lau, Cate McKinnon, Jennifer Netter, Michelle Secrist and Noelle Zinn will be supervised closely by Sands and the staff from the nursing facility as they provide nursing care to those admitted during the 12-hour shifts the students and Sands will be working.

By Sunday afternoon, Sands reported that they had gotten so many patients that they had opened another floor. The first night, she said, they only had 10 people, but on Sunday they were up to about 20 on each of the two floors.

"I have been receiving many compliments about our UB students. They are so eager to learn, asking questions and just so proactive - they jump right in without being asked to help. I am so proud of them," Sands said.

She noted they have a makeshift nurse's station and took an old cardboard box to make a patient census board and turned index cards into patient charts. There is no privacy, so Sands and her students have been working in teams of two or three to hold up sheets for patients when they are bathing or dressing.

"In a situation like this there are so many opportunities for innovative ideas - you have no computers, no charts, nothing. But you feel lucky just to be able to give back," she said.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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