Physician says ‘I Do’ to caring for others during storm

The wrath of devastation and confusion caused by Hurricane Harvey brought out the best in many people, including a physician who was also a bride-to-be.

Before Harvey, Dr. Sarah Candler, an assistant professor of medicine and primary care physician at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, had been planning her wedding day for Sept. 3, 2017.

But Hurricane Harvey had other plans.

Candler volunteered to stay overnight at the VA hospital the evening Harvey made landfall, bracing for the storms impact.

Dr. Sarah Candler and fiance spend what was supposed to be their wedding day in the community.

Dr. Sarah Candler and fiance spend what was supposed to be their wedding day in the community.

“I think that anybody that goes into medicine does it because they like to take care of people,” said Candler. “Friday, I made the decision to sleep at the hospital. When somebody needs you right then and there and you’re the best qualified person to do it, I feel I signed up for that. I signed up to be there for people, so that was my priority.”

Once the storm hit, Candler continued to provide care to her veteran patients and volunteered to stay another evening at the hospital.

“We have a couple methods for contacting patients, so in addition to the Mobile Medical Unit deployed on Saturday in Pearland, I spent Wednesday after the storm on the phone,” said Candler. “I spent about 10 hours on the phone and emailing with secure messages. I started with the ones that I was worried about. They are sick, on dialysis or have heart failure. I left them a message saying your doctor is here. I wanted them to know if they needed care and they were dry and safe and could make it in, that we were available to them.”

The following day, which would have been Candler’s wedding day, she and her fiancé helped gut and clean their friends’ flooded house. Her friends were just moving in and hadn’t unpacked yet. The unpacked boxes were soaked from the floodwaters.

One box contained her friend’s wedding veil. Candler’s friends urged her to put on the veil and they all enjoyed big smiles and giggles for a moment in the disaster.

For Candler, the decision to postpone her wedding and continue to help her patients, community and friends in the wake of Harvey, was natural.

Looking forward to brighter tomorrows, Candler is making plans now to be married on President’s Day weekend, February 2018.

-This article originally appeared on the Houston VA website.