Harvey doesn’t disrupt important imaging services

The drama of Hurricane Harvey was no match for the cool professionalism of two assistant professors of radiology and two Baylor residents. They were prepared to ride out the storm and provide uninterrupted imaging services important for patient diagnosis and treatment.

As rains drenched the city, Dr. Ann Marie Marciel and Dr. Sangeetha Kumar read images at Baylor’s main campus for patients at affiliate hospitals and other regional facilities, while residents Dr. Varshana Gurusamy and Dr. Joshua Carlton provided on-site radiology coverage for patients at Ben Taub Hospital. Dr. Eric Rohren, chair of the Department of Radiology, helped coordinate and streamline communications between all of the institutions the radiologists were covering.

“Going into a situation like this, you have your backup plans but when reality hits it always seems like you are little bit unprepared,” said Rohren, who added that many of the institutions using Baylor radiology services faced their own disruptions from the storm.

“Ultimately, we had a great team in place and kudos go to Dr. Marciel who led the radiology ride-out team,” he said.

Marciel said she and Kumar were quite comfortable in the basement at Baylor, except for the leak. “We were a little thrown off when an adjacent wall started leaking water. We had to leave the basement and come up with a plan to get all of our equipment up to a safer spot and reconnect service,” she said.

“We always remembered that there was a patient waiting on the other side of the image and that it was our job to get the results to the physician.”

Marciel said they had tremendous support from the rest of the Baylor ride-out team. “The compassion and camaraderie was amazing.”

For Gurusamy, Saturday night was like a normal busy weekend night, until the flooding worsened. “We could see the water creeping up toward where the ambulances are parked in the back of Ben Taub and so at that point, we knew we were probably not getting out of there any time soon,” she said.

The next morning, she and Carlton discovered that the hospital had suffered storm damage. “We couldn’t go downstairs to the cafeteria,” Gurusamy said. “We were also told Sunday morning that because of the flooding in the basement we wouldn’t be taking in any new patients at Ben Taub.” They finally were able to leave Monday after covering the radiology department for about 40 hours.

Overall it was a good experience. “It reinforced that I wanted to be a doctor to help people,” Gurusamy said. “I got to be actively involved at a time when my community and my institution and hospital needed me the most, so that was very rewarding and humbling.”

See Gurusamy discuss the ride-out experience in this video.