AtlantiCare nurses are among more than 50 from New Jersey working in Texas while the region recovers from Hurricane Harvey.
Brenda Mattessich, a hospital nurse from Manahawkin, Stafford Township, and Vicki Dunn, a trauma nurse from Berkeley Township, Ocean County, flew to Texas last week to relieve staff at Bay Area Regional Medical Center in Webster, about 25 miles south of Houston.
“Everyone here has been incredibly kind to us, providing everything we need and going above and beyond to welcome us,” Dunn said. “We are truly amazed at the generosity from so many of the people we’ve met in the face of their own struggles with the devastation from Hurricane Harvey.”
The storm, a Category 4 hurricane when it hit land Aug. 25, left thousands of people in emergency shelters and is blamed for at least 44 deaths.
Volunteers from New Jersey’s Red Cross chapter and the state Office of Emergency Management’s task force traveled to Texas to assist in search-and-rescue and relief efforts.
The local nurses flew out of Teterboro Airport on Thursday morning on a full flight of volunteers coordinated by the New Jersey Hospital Association.
Dunn said the two AtlantiCare nurses would work the night shifts at Bay Area Regional Medical Center, because it is one of the hospital’s greatest needs.
Mattessich said she felt compelled to help when she heard Texas nurses were working 18-hour shifts despite many having lost their homes and possessions.
“I’m touched beyond words and have been forced to choke back the tears that are ready to fall when they share the events of the past week with us,” she said. “We are a drop in the bucket compared to the outpouring of hospitality and generosity they have expressed toward us.”
Dunn said she wanted to help in whatever way she could after seeing the storm’s damage to the area. She said her AtlantiCare co-workers have offered to cover her shifts while she’s away, so she could spend time helping in Texas.
In addition to the professional support, area hospitals are contributing financially to people suffering in Texas and other parts hit by the hurricane.
Jennifer Tornetta, AtlantiCare spokewoman, said the hospital donated $10,000 to the Texas Hospital Association Hospital Employee Assistance Fund, which was established to provide support to the network of hospital employees.