The decision was made sitting on the couch watching the news, hearing about the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Harvey that hit Houston, Texas, in late August. Renee McDougal ’16, first-year Doctor of Nursing Practice student, wanted to help.
McDougal contacted her employer, Fresenius Kidney Care, and within 24 hours, was on one of the first flights to Houston after the hurricane.
“People on planes usually chit chat, and as we flew over Houston, it was dead silent. Everybody was glued to their windows,” McDougal said.
For the next week, McDougal spent 18-20 hours a day assisting with dialysis patients. She spent her time making quick decisions while assessing, triaging, and dialyzing patients.
“Patients were showing up to whatever dialysis center they could get to. We had patients sleeping in the lobby. We weren’t turning anybody away, so if you showed up, you were dialyzing,” McDougal said. “The patients who had been in the flood waters, their legs, their arms, or whatever had been in the water were starting to get infected.”
Dialysis patients dialyze three times a week for a minimum of three hours. After the hurricane, Houston lost around four to five clinics, leaving dialysis patients almost nowhere to receive treatment.
“There was just a lot of making sure that you were doing the best you can. The patients were so thankful and so kind. They were so grateful for the care they were being given.” McDougal said.
By the end of the week, McDougal and other volunteers treated roughly 400 patients.
“The entire Houston community came together. Everyone was making sure that everybody had everything they need,” McDougal said.
McDougal explained that her education at Marian University, as an undergraduate student and as a graduate student, prepared her for the experience.
“It definitely made me ten times more grateful for the education Marian gave me. I had professors who took the time to make sure we were organized, respectful, and that we could put ourselves in our patients shoes.” McDougal said.