Save Haven for Evacuees

The Mid-South is becoming a safe haven for hospital patients transported out of areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The magnitude of the Gulf Coast tragedy called for a tracking system never before used in the Mid-South. Hospitals had to find a way to manage both evacuees and local patients.

Doctor David Cox of Methodist University Hospital is on the front lines of the effort.

"I think it's important we all band together and try to help these people," he said.

In addition to critical patients, Dr. Wilcox foresees evacuees who will need prescriptions and basic treatment.

While local hospitals expect more patients to trickle in, help is going out. Forty West Tennessee ambulances are on the way to Mississippi.

Methodist Hospital took in three critical patients from New Orleans Saturday afternoon. It is all part of a bigger plan.

"Every four hours we're collecting new information from each hospital by fax telling us exactly what beds are available in which hospitals," said Barry Moore, Director of The Memphis and Shelby County Health Department.

The system even narrows down call classifications.

"So if we have pregnant women that are going into labor, we know right now the hospital that they can go to," Moore explained.

This is part of an ever larger plan. The Hurricane Katrina War Room sits in the basement of the Memphis and Shelby County Emergency Management Agency. It is the brain for all emergency services.

"This is where we can document everything that's being done. We need that documentation for when we get back to FEMA with what we need," said Agency Director, Claud Talford.

While it will not be easy for emergency responders, they are dedicated to getting the job done.

"I know there are some dedicated people out there who have been doing the best they can with what they have," said Dr. Wilcox.