Katrina's Angels

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Students take trip to help Katrina survivors

Date: 10/11/2005

Students take trip to help Katrina survivors
By Christine Eccleston
Published: Monday, October 3, 2005
Article Tools: Page 1 of 2

Eight UM-St. Louis nursing students and two nursing professors rearranged their scholastic, work and personal schedules to make time to volunteer at two subacute care facilities in Biloxi, Miss.

The group of 10 left early Monday, Sept. 26 and returned late afternoon Sunday, Oct. 2.

According to Jennifer Taylor, nursing clinical instructor and retention coordinator, Diane Saleska, clinical assistant professor of nursing and Nursing Arts Lab coordinator, was the "driving force" behind the trip.

"She called me the day after [Hurricane Katrina struck] and asked 'Do you want to go?'" Taylor said. The two planned to go but had to wait because of the dangerous conditions in New Orleans.

Later, Saleska contacted the Mississippi State Board of Nursing and discovered that two residential care facilities, Biloxi Community Care Center and SunPlex Sub Acute Care Facility, were in need of nurses. Many of the staff nurses either had evacuated or had their homes destroyed. The nurses who remained had been working nearly around the clock and needed assistance.

Saleska and Taylor, not wanting to waste any time, worked quickly to prepare for the trip. They hand-picked eight junior or senior nursing students to accompany them and began collecting provisions to take to Biloxi.

The trip was financed in large part by a $1,500 donation from New Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Peters that covered gas and certain supplies. St. Paul Methodist Church donated supplies its congregation had collected, and local businesses like Bed Bath & Beyond offered free or discounted materials for the trip.

South Town Dodge donated one of the vans and a generous employee of Enterprise Rent-a-Car reached into his own pocket and donated the second van after his company refused to give the group a discount. Taylor said she was overwhelmed by the generosity of the community and the local businesses.

When asked if she was nervous about going to Biloxi, Taylor said her husband, who was not going, was a lot more nervous than she was.