“Every night was a very, very scary situation. I mean, you could hear the gunfire. We even had a S.W.A.T. team come through the hospital because they had received a report of a hostage,” said Dr. James Aiken of the tense situation inside Charity and University hospitals during Hurricane Katrina.
When it became apparent there would be no organized evacuation by the authorities, Dr. Aiken began to orchestrate his own evacuation plan. Five days after caring for patients under unimaginable conditions, more than 350 patients were removed, many of them critically ill.
“They left by boat, helicopter, National Guard trucks, you name it.” Only when the last patient left did Dr. Aiken and his staff evacuate. “When that last patient went off and the last staff person waved to me, that was the moment I knew we’d pulled off something we never would have imagined being able to pull off before all this started.”