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Ruth Turman, RN, Named Honorary Mayor President of Baton Rouge

In recognition of her live-saving efforts during Hurricane Gustav, Ruth Turman, RN, EKLMC patient safety manager, was named Honorary Mayor-President by the Metropolitan Council of East Baton Rouge at its Metropolitan Medical Response Team Day.  Mike Futrell, assistant chief administrative officer for the City of Baton Rouge recognized designated regional coordinators (DRCs) and the medical director for Region 2 at the September 24 council meeting.

Honored with Turman were Allyn Whaley-Martin, RN, Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center (OLOLMC), Connie DeLeo, RN, Baton Rouge General Medical Center, and Dr. Louis Minsky, OLOLMC.  As DRCs for Region 2, the three were based at the East Baton Rouge Parish Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, under the direction of Dr. Minsky.

During an emergency, the team is the community’s lifeline.  For the hurricane, they responded to all calls for medical assistance from the public except 911 calls, working nonstop for several weeks on end, including 20-hour days just prior to and just after the storm.  “This was exactly what my counterparts at EKLMC were doing,” Turman said, quick to note that she accepted the honor on behalf of all at EKLMC whom she was representing.

 “It was a great honor to represent not only EKLMC but also LSU in serving the citizens of Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes,” she said.  She is also part of the EKLMC disaster management team.
Sometimes the best assistance the DRCs provided to callers was listening and offering comfort.

Besides taking calls, the DRCs for Region 2, which includes the parishes of East and West Baton Rouge, Point Coupee, East and West Feliciana, Iberville, and Ascension, served as liasons between hospitals and the EOC to ensure hospitals had vital resources for their continued operation.  DRCs managed staffing from outside the region, including credentialing issues, and tracked surge capacity and patient movement and placement. 

They worked with the coroner’s office, arranged for dialysis and patient exchanges of oxygen tanks and coordinated with the Office of Public Health patient placement in the PMAC.  “We probably saved lives.  We worked hand in hand with OPH,” she said.  “That was a nice experience”

As the storm tore down trees and power lines, the DRCs improvised figuring out how to help patients conserve oxygen, sometimes with surprising results.  A DRC instructed a caller without power to drive through her neighborhood listening for the sound of a running generator, then to knock on the  door of the generator’s owner and ask to use it to recharge her battery.  The caller did, and came face to face with a friend she hadn’t seen in years and spent several hours there.

Once the storm passed, Turman ordered oxygen tanks and set up distribution points in Baton Rouge and Baker fire stations, where police guarded the tanks and EMS personnel hooked them up for patients.

Another primary function of DRCs was moving patients out of hospitals without power.  “We worked with competing hospitals, but everyone worked seamlessly to take care of patients,” Turman said.  “No one complained about the type of patient assigned to a hospital.”

DRCs exerted a huge effort caring for Baton Rouge citizens, she said, but she and her team will do it again whenever the need arises.

Ruth Turman