The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is taking all necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of its patients and employees following the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey.
The institution’s main campus in Houston, as well as its other facilities in the surrounding area, will remain closed to outpatient care — including chemotherapy, radiation and nonemergency surgeries — until Friday.
In the meantime, MD Anderson’s care teams have been identifying and contacting patients with urgent medical or treatment needs to discuss their options.
“All of us who work at MD Anderson are incredibly committed to our very core to treat these individuals, so we are committed to communicating and to getting ourselves back so that we can get patients treated,” Karen Lu, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer at MD Anderson, said during an institution presscast.
The record-breaking storm made landfall on Aug. 25, and the slow-moving storm has battered parts of Texas and Louisiana since then. Texas officials have reported at least 30 flood-related deaths, and rainfall totals in Houston over the past 6 days have exceeded 50 inches.
More than 2,000 employees at MD Anderson served as part of the institution’s “Ride Out” team during the storm to ensure consistent inpatient care.
“It has truly been an extraordinary team effort, and I am extremely proud of everyone’s dedication to ensure that our patients were safe and well taken cared for during this event,” Lu said. “Many have been here for four continuous days serving our patients at great sacrifice to their families, and we have much to be proud of over the past several days.”
MD Anderson used an electronic system poll to gauge the impact Hurricane Harvey has had on its 20,000 employees. More than 40% of the institution’s employees have been impacted by flooding or have had to evacuate.
“Despite this, we have recently been able to bolster staffing throughout the hospital, inclusion doctors, inpatient nursing, respiratory care, housekeeping and dining services,” Lu said.
No major power losses occurred at the institution’s research facilities, Lu said.
Also, MD Anderson and Texas Medical Center only experienced minor leaks, none of which affected patient-care areas.
“Throughout my 18 years here, I have loved working at MD Anderson,” Lu said. “These last four days have helped me understand what makes this place so special. We literally have an army of individuals who are tirelessly committed to caring for our cancer patients. They have protected our patients through Hurricane Harvey and they are working hard on our recovery.” – by Kristie L. Kahl