Dr. Jay MacNeal, Mercyhealth’s EMS Medical Director, is currently deployed to Louisiana to help provide medical care in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
MacNeal, who has been with Mercyhealth for 10 years, is also part of the OH-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT). DMAT is one of five types of federal response teams that are part of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS).
NDMS supports communities with medical care, veterinary care, and mortuary assistance during disasters or public health emergencies at the request of states. NDMS is among the resources made available by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
Just after Hurricane Ida made landfall, Dr. MacNeal got the call from NDMS. “Are you available to deploy? We need you in Louisiana.” Without hesitation, he agreed to respond to assist however he could during a 14-day deployment.
For Hurricane Ida, Dr. MacNeal is assigned to a hospital just outside of New Orleans that has been receiving patients from other nearby hospitals that were damaged and had to evacuate their patients.
Dr. MacNeal credits his emergency medicine training with giving him the versatility needed for a mission like this. He is currently working the night shift and is caring for patients throughout the hospital. He has been assigned to the Hospital Medicine and Intensive Care Unit team.
“What I enjoy about these deployments is the ability to bring a unique skill set to those in need,” said Dr. MacNeal. “I am amazed by the hospitality of people who have no power and damaged homes. Despite what they have been through, they ensure we have somewhere to put our cot, have some food and water, and are willing to help us do our jobs however they can.”
The hospital he is working at has provided ice, mobile laundry, and gasoline for their affected employees, and they are in good spirits despite the difficulties of this storm.
Dr. MacNeal is working in a part of the country with large amounts of patients with severe COVID-19. “Seeing the effect COVID-19 has on the human body is absolutely gripping. I am managing many ventilator dependent patients, and some have been on ventilators for weeks.”
About 90% of the critical patients are unvaccinated, and many have no previous health conditions.
Dr. MacNeal is especially appreciative of his family who is supporting him during his deployment. “It is very isolating to be working in an ICU in full personal protective equipment, and not leaving the hospital. Knowing that my family is praying and thinking of me makes all the difference in the world.”
At Mercyhealth, Dr. MacNeal works in the field on the MD-1 response vehicle and in the emergency department.