Lessons Learned from 2017 Hurricane Season

The 2017 hurricane season tested emergency departments across the country. The storms directly impacted patient care in the areas hit hardest and caused many indirect problems nationwide, including IV fluid and medication shortages resulting from halted production in Puerto Rican factories in the wake of Hurricane Maria. 

In a two-hour session tonight on the 2017 hurricane season, a panel of disaster preparedness experts and emergency nurses will share their experiences before, during and after the devastating effects of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in southeastern Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, respectively.

Hurricane Panel

7 – 9 p.m.


Room 319, 320, 321

 “I feel this session is important because emergency nurses can give a glimpse of the fragility of our health care system and how dependent we are on an intact infrastructure to provide care,” said panel moderator Dan Nadworny. 

Panelists discussing their hurricane experiences are:

  • Diane Fuller Switzer
  • Kelsea Bice
  • Melanie Aluotto
  • Breanne Ward
  • Tina Withrow
  • Nelda Ephraim

Nadworny said he hopes the group will offer insight into how preplanning, mitigation and training impacted outcomes during the 2017 hurricane season. He said that after the session, participants should be able to:

  • Describe how hurricanes can impact rural, mountainous and urban areas, as well as identify ways to help communities recover
  • Identify steps to prepare themselves personally and professionally for an impending natural disaster
  • Identify how the approach to the delivery of health care during disasters needs to be re-evaluated based on the needs of the population

Panelists will look to answer many questions, including:

  • How does a disaster medical assistance team compare to other types of groups that respond to a disaster? 
  • What personal preparations do you undertake when you know there is a possibility of a disaster that requires your response? 
  • What is the greatest challenge you faced logistically and personally? 
  • What is the most surprising thing you encountered? 
  • What were the most common complaints you treated? 
  • What worked well and what would you do differently next time? 
  • What advice would you give an ED nurse who wants to respond to a disaster?