Home health nurse puts patients first while dealing with devastation from Hurricane Ida

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 22, 2021

LAPLACE — Registered nurse Desiree Dillon’s home was severely damaged during the wrath of Hurricane Ida. Yet, she has continued providing home health care to patients across St. John the Baptist Parish without missing a beat, prioritizing service above self during a time of need.

Many of her patients remained in their homes without power or water for weeks after the storm. Dillon navigated around those challenges with a flashlight in hand to ensure her patients received the individualized medical care they deserve.

“I know my patients on a personal level. I call and text them just to check on them on a regular basis, and I checked on everybody after the storm to make sure they were okay and see how they were doing,” Dillon said. “It’s a bad situation, but it’s good to be able to go in there and just let them know you’re not the only one, and we’re going to get through this. It’s going to be hard. Instead of looking at it as all this destruction, I try to encourage them by saying this is a new beginning.”

Dillon resides in Livingston Parish, which was also hit hard by Hurricane Ida on August 29 as the eye wall moved north of St. John Parish. Her family was thankfully not home when her house was totaled by wind and water damage. Unable to return home, they stayed with a different relative every day after the storm.

Last week, her family was offered temporary housing through the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, where her husband works as a deputy. They are now blessed to have running water and working lights, but she’ll never forget the first days after the storm.

“Right after the hurricane, there were times when I physically couldn’t get to LaPlace because there were downed power lines and trees blocking the roads everywhere,” Dillon said. “We see a lot of patients down Rue Dubourg, and that was hit hard. A lot of patients are still displaced, but with the power lines and water lines coming back up, we’re seeing more people with high medical needs.”

Dillon monitors post-surgical patients receiving services through Superior Home Health. Many have open wounds that need to be cared for two or three times a week to avoid the risks of infection or amputation.

“When you don’t have power, you can’t see too well, and you have to use your phone or a flash light to assess the patients. We’re still able to do it. We just have to navigate around those challenges,” Dillon said.

She added that the Superior Home Health team has strived to meet the needs of patients and improve their quality of life in the aftermath of the storm. Sometimes that meant rounding up donations for those who were in true need of outside resources including generator fuel, water, food and supplies such as diapers and pads.

Dillon entered the medical field to provide a personal level of care, and she has never wavered from that mission.

“The medical field now is so streamlined. It’s like a factory. I know I’m only one person and I can’t change the entire field, but I do everything I can for my patients to know them on a personal level, especially when I go to their homes,” she said. “You have to build a really good rapport with them. That means letting them know they are going to be taken care of on a personal level. Your care is going to be individual to you.”