JJC Nursing Students Experience “Once-in-a-Lifetime” Flooding Evacuation at Morris Hospital

Joliet Junior College nursing students were wrapping up their clinicals for the day at Morris Hospital when a “Code Gray,” was called on Thursday, April 18. The basement was starting to fill up with floodwaters, and there needed to be an evacuation.JJC Nursing Students Experience “Once-in-a-Lifetime” Flooding Evacuation at Morris Hospital
 
“It was ankle deep in some areas,” said student Josh Bessler, who saw the flooding firsthand. “I didn’t venture too far. It was dirty, muddy water.”
 
Bessler and the other nursing students were allowed to leave, but they decided to stay and help with the evacuation.
 
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime career thing,” said Sue Humenik-Schmidt, nursing professor. Humenik-Schmidt said this was the first time she had ever witnessed a “Code Gray,” in her 20 years of nursing experience.
 
Bessler, along with classmates Tara Heninger, Felicia Kamara, Roberta Mann, James Reyes, and Ram Singh, assisted hospital staff by packing up supplies and helping patients evacuate.
 
Some patients were released to go home; others were sent to nursing homes. Everybody else was transferred to either Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, or Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee.
 
While the evacuation looked chaotic from the outside — a scene of floodwaters, ambulances, and fire trucks — inside was a different story.
 
“It was a lot calmer than I thought it would be,” Bessler said.
 
The nursing students said that everybody on staff had their own job, worked in an orderly fashion, and nobody panicked.
 
“The whole hospital, everybody was working for a common goal,” Humenik-Schmidt said. She added that all employees, from doctors to secretaries, were helping with the evacuation.
 
According to Humenik-Schmidt, hospitals practice drills such as a “Code Gray,” all the time.
 
To the patients, the evacuation was more exciting than scary. The nursing students said that many patients were glad to experience something out of the ordinary and were very cooperative with the evacuation.
 
To view a slideshow of the flood made by Morris Hospital staff, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=OClPNiSGmx8.
 
For more information about the nursing program at JJC, contact Humenik-Schmidt at 815-280-2638 or e-mail her at sschimidt@jjc.edu. Department Chair of Nursing, Allied Health and Emergency Services Mary Beth Luna can be reached at 815-280-2605 or mluna@jjc.edu.

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