East Texas Hospitals Open Their Doors For Lili Evacuees

It wasn't just patients East Texas hospitals welcomed today. Nurses, doctors and caregivers like Bonnie Barnett, from a nursing home in Beaumont, Texas came too.

"They called me at home before I was to come on (at work) to see if I would consider going to Tyler in case of an evacuation. I said you can count on me."

She traveled with a caravan of buses and ambulances full of patients overnight. EMT's like Meghan Vanderbilt say transporting the patients was an emotional experience.

"You have people who are sick," explains Meghan. " This is there home and you kind of wonder what are they going to do when it is all over. Especially the old people who have Alzheimer and their nursing home is all they know. It's sad."

But it was a job that had to be done to keep dozens of patients safe from harm. Bonnie and Meghan both admit the transfer was stressful.

"I've been up 24 hours with no sleep," says Bonnie. "I've been with them (the patients) from the time I got to work (yesterday) until now, through the whole night and the whole day, today."

Bonnie left her loved ones and her home behind to take care of the patients who depend on her for life.

"I just wanted to get everyone out of their safely. They came first," she says.

But her family is not far from her thoughts.

"I'm worried. My family's back home and I'm here and I don't know what they are doing."

Stationed at UT Health Center, with more than 17 of her patients, she walks the halls of the hospital waiting on word from family and for Lili to pass. She finds comfort though, comforting others with a kind words and giving them rested assurance.

"They are in a strange place. You try to console them that they will go home and be ok," she says. "That's what nursing is all about, caring and giving and making sure patients are taken care of."

And she's still putting their needs above her own.

In all UT Health Center took in more than 21 patients. ETMC in Tyler took 8. ETMC in Rusk took in 22 children from the Shriners Burn Unit. ETMC Jacksonville took 2 and ETMC in Pittsburgh took 5.

Trinity Mother Frances Health Systems took 5 ICU patients and about 10 others.

Good Shepherd and Longview Regional took in over 30 patients.