Second floor staff stayed in touch with the 12th floor via the broken windows in the building. — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
When Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans five years ago, the city’s big public hospital, Charity Hospital, was destroyed. Charity Hospital had long served New Orleans’ poor and uninsured residents.
On Thursday’s NewsHour, Betty Ann Bowser reports on how doctors in New Orleans have worked to rebuild the city’s health system over the past five years, using federal grants to build a network of 90 community health centers.
In the slide show below, you can see images from the dramatic evacuation of Charity Hospital, taken by Mooney Bryant-Penland, who was a nurse there at the time.
The Supply Canoe
A Charity Hospital resident brought a canoe so that staff could ferry supplies from different buildings that were surrounding the hospital. — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
The Waiting Room
Hospital staff waited in the auditorium on the second floor at Charity for five days before rescue came. They moved all E.R. patients and staff to the second floor of the hospital to avoid the rising floodwaters. — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
This stairwell led to the basement of the hospital from the first floor. Floodwaters never reached the full first floor of the building. — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
Patients were carried down this outside stairwell from as high as the 12th floor, which housed the surgical ICU. Patients were transported across the street to Tulane Hospital where staff were being evacuated by helicopter. According to Bryant-Penland, a Charity patient died while waiting to be evacuated on this route. — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
This patient was taken by boat to Tulane Hospital for evacuation by helicopter. — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
Father Miguel, a Catholic priest who served at Charity for what Bryant-Penland says is “as long as I can remember,” being evacuated by a Wildlife and Fisheries airboat. — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
Bryant-Penland explains: “This is one of the 18-wheel trucks that was used to take some of our non-critical patients along with nursing staff to care for them.” These patients were eventually taken via airplane to facilities that could care for them. — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
Two surgical residents take a nap on the 1st floor after a shift caring for ICU patients. — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
Shuttling Through The Water
This military truck shuttled patients to Tulane hospital for helicopter evacuation. — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
Hospital staff used all of their spine boards for transporting patients, and had to dismantle cubicles to build more boards. — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
Wildlife and Fisheries Help Evacuate
Bryant-Penland and her husband, who is also a nurse, were among the last to leave Charity Hospital on the sixth day of the evacuation, after seeing all of the patients off. Her father, who had connections to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries department, helped to arrange for their evacuation by boat. — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
Bryant-Penland explains: “This is a banner that the ER made to hang on the wall. A lot of the departments in the hospital did this to boost morale. Due to the lack of communication we thought every day we would be rescued, but this did not occur and it was quite difficult to keep the morale up.” — Photo by Mooney Bryant-Penland
Editor’s Note: Some viewers have pointed out that there is ongoing debate over whether Charity Hospital was “destroyed” by Hurricane Katrina. After the storm, officials from the state and from Louisiana State University, which ran the hospital, evaluated the building and deemed it too damaged by water and mold to reopen. However, some community activists and others argue that the building could be repaired and reopened were the political will there to do so. The New Orleans Times-Picayune recently reported on the ongoing debate.