Jessica is an OB Staff Nurse at Sampson Regional. Her story begins with preparations for Hurricane Florence three days prior to the storm hitting when it was predicted to be a Category 4 storm. Described as one of the most nerve-racking things she’s experienced in her adult years, she and her husband spent every ounce of free time preparing their Pender County home, which sits just minutes from the Cape Fear River, for damaging rains and wind. After spending a full day searching for a generator and gas cans, she began preparing for her scheduled shift at Sampson Regional.
"How do you pack for 7 plus days at the hospital? Leaving my husband, animals, and family was the worst. I was flooded with emotions and many questions, like 'When was I going to see them again and are they going to be okay?' 'Is my house going to flood?' 'Will the trees fall on my house?'"
Jessica’s husband works for EMS, so like her, he made his way to work during the storm. She said, “The whole time through, I was continually worrying about him driving over and road and it giving out beneath him….or going to a rescue call and being taken away by the flooding waters or being injured.”
Jessica recalls a little sigh of relief when Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 2 storm but never expected the impact of so much rain.
She continued her story recalling that everything began to feel chaotic when power was lost. Our OB Unit, located on the 3rd floor, experienced heavy leaking due to rain. That presented challenges for staff as they continued trying to provide the best care they could for laboring patients and new mothers during difficult circumstances.
Jessica said, “That was a long day, full of sweat-drenched scrubs, dehydration, smelly surroundings, and cold but wonderful showers.”
She continued her story, "I was very impressed with how effective the Command Center was during the hurricane. All of the administrative staff maintained their authority and ran around the facility, taking control of everything that was happening. Every time you turned around, someone was reminding you to drink more water because it was so hot in the building. They were bringing us more flashlights and trying to secure more fans so we could dry the condensation accumulating on the floors. The Environmental Services team was steady helping replenish soaking towels to absorb the water coming in and running wet vacs so that we could get patients from the bed to the bathroom."
Jessica’s family called her on Friday to inform her that water was beginning to rise in her yard and was nearly to the top step. Until that point, she said she had stayed so busy that she hardly had time to think about everything happening at home. "When I thought my home was going to flood, I lost it," she said. "My family wanted to know what they could get out of the house, and I just couldn’t think. How do you decide over the phone what things are most important to you? This was the time I also learned there was no longer a way in our out of Pender County. Every road in and out of the county was under water or blocked by a fallen tree."
Jessica began to wonder when she would get home to her family, animals, and husband. Her co-workers began lifting her up during this time, offering their support to keep her mind focused at work and less on what was happening at home. “Whether the administrative staff, lab, doctors, environmental services, medical records, nurses, or volunteers – everyone was here through the duration of the storm and longer. We all grew closer in one way or another," she said.
"I cannot express how grateful I am for every meal the hospital fed me while I was here and for every person who told me to smile, even when I didn’t feel like it. It was a rough 8 days, but I wouldn’t want to rough it out with anyone other than the individuals I was stuck with. I’m proud to say we worked well under pressure, and no matter the circumstances, we always worked together as a team. However, nothing made me happier than clocking out on September 19th, walking to my car and heading home versus taking the walk to 2nd floor to sleep in the hospital."
Jessica is one of many every day heroes at Sampson Regional Medical Center who was courageous in her commitment to our patients and community during Hurricane Florence. Make a gift to the Tree of Love in honor of our healthcare professionals, like Jessica.