On Thursday, Jennie McQueen's first meal of the day was a bag lunch. She had been sleeping on a cot in a shopping mall since Tuesday. She had not showered and was working from sun up to sundown.
McQueen is one of five Yampa Valley Medical Center nurses who went to Gautier, Miss., to help with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The group was the second from the hospital to assist in the relief. The first group returned Monday.
The five nurses have divided their time among a special-needs shelter and two nearby hospitals.
As of early Thursday afternoon, McQueen and nurse Lin--da Casner had seen 50 patients in the shelter. They have given tetanus vaccinations, treated infected wounds and cared for people the best they could with the limited supplies they had.
There are no doctors where they are working, and supplies, including food, are limited. Supplies have come from the Red Cross and private donations. The nurses brought energy bars and other dried foods but have turned to rationing, sharing what they can with their patients.
On Thursday, McQueen's lunch came from a Navy officer who brought 20 sack lunches.
The nurses are working about a mile from the Gulf Coast, where the destruction is unfathomable, she said.
"It's complete devastation," McQueen said. Trees are down, power lines are down, and all that might be left of a house often is a few brick columns.
She has treated patients with all sorts of stories, including one man from New Orleans who was using a crutch and had his fractured elbow in a sling. He made a boat out of planks and floated out of the city after the levies broke.
They have been giving people who have lost everything items out of their pocketbooks, including antibiotics they brought for the trip, McQueen said.
"I'm feeling very utilized," she said. "I'm feeling very fulfilled as a nurse."
-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org