More than a week after the strongest hurricane (Harvey) to hit the U.S. outside of a decade made landfall in Texas, two affiliated hospitals in the HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division shared a pair of bright spots – a new life and a relieved one – left in the wake of the catastrophic storm.

Last Friday, caregivers at Corpus Christi Medical Center Doctors Regional helped deliver baby Harvey Rodriguez as hurricane harveyhis namesake hurricane barreled down on the Gulf Coast. Weighing in at 7 lbs., 18 ¼ inches long, baby Harvey was delivered at 7:55 p.m. by Dr. Leighann Glazener and Dr. Romulo Corrada, as the eye of the storm made landfall just north of Corpus Christi.

Mother Irma Rodriguez had not selected a name for the baby before she went into labor, so when registered nurse Megan Villanueva, suggested the name Harvey, the mom agreed it was perfect.

“It was exciting delivering my baby during the hurricane. We are thankful for the care we received at Doctors Regional and for the good health of our family,” said Ms. Rodriguez.

Villanueva, a labor and delivery nurse who suggested the baby boy’s moniker, started working at Corpus Christi Medical Center in August of 2015.

Leaders at Corpus Christi Doctors Regional knew that patients, like Rodriguez and baby Harvey, would continue to need care despite the historic storm raging outside, so they prepared in advance with generators and fuel for backup power needs, additional supplies including linens, medications, food and water, and extra staffing on standby.

“Patient care is our highest priority, even during a Category 4 hurricane. We are blessed with outstanding nurses, physicians, and staff to serve the community,” said Jay Woodall, Corpus Christi Medical Center Chief Executive Officer.

The hospital received only minor damage during the storm and had received a steady flow of emergency center patients since Harvey made landfall.

hurricane harvey

Baby Harvey’s care team at HCA’s Corpus Christi Medical Center – Doctors Regional in Corpus Christi, Texas. 

Doctor Canoes Through Flood to Perform Surgery on Teen

Just over 200 miles away at HCA-affiliate Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, a physician – with the help of two volunteer firemen – used a canoe as an emergency medical vehicle and made his way through treacherous flood waters in the middle of the night to perform surgery on a 16 -year-old suffering from a painful condition that if not treated within a short window of time causes permanent damage.

When pediatric general surgeon Dr. Stephen Kimmel got a call last Saturday morning that Jacob Terrazas, was suffering from testicular torsion and needed immediate attention, he jumped in his car and headed toward the hospital even though his own home was beginning to flood.

Dr. Kimmel only got so far when he was forced to turn back home due to rising waters. Fortunately, two volunteer firemen were able to reach him in a personal truck that had a canoe in the truck-bed.  The trio drove down I-45 until the water was impassible, then unloaded the canoe from the back of the truck and paddled in the dark against heavy currents until the water was calm enough for Dr. Kimmel to walk the last leg of the journey (almost a mile in waist-deep water) to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center.

The Patient’s Road to Relief

Jacob Terrazas, his mother Yesenia Terrazas and his sister Brianna also had a harrowing evening getting to the surgery he so badly needed.  On their way to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, flood waters made it impossible to go further.  Because of weather conditions, the Terrazas had to wait in the rain on I-45 until a local fire department was able to respond and bring them safely via ambulance to the hospital.

“We are so happy to be here,” Jacob’s mother told the hospital and EMS staff on their arrival.  “Jacob was in such pain and was shaking and hardly able to talk when we got here, but everyone here is so helpful. This has been a long night, but this place is wonderful.”

Knowing that Dr. Kimmel was on his way, caregivers at Clear Lake Regional prepped Jacob for surgery and assured him and his family that help was on the way.  Drenched head to toe when he finally arrived, Dr. Kimmel quickly changed to scrubs so he and his surgical team could get to work and save Jacob’s organs from permanent damage.

On his efforts to help Jacob, Dr. Kimmel simply said, “Sometimes you have to do whatever it takes. This young man’s life would have been changed for the worse forever if we hadn’t been able to perform surgery when we did. In the end, it all turned out very well.”

The hour-long surgery was a complete success and Jacob was discharged less than 48 hours after the long Saturday night that he, his family and the Clear Lake Regional Medical Center staff will long remember.

Watch Dr. Kimmel and Jacob on CNN’s “OutFront” with Erin Burnett below. HCA internal audience can view the CNN video here

HCA operates approximately 50 hospitals, 27 surgery centers in Texas, including 15 hospitals, six freestanding emergency centers, five surgery centers and one freestanding cancer center in Houston; and a hospital with five campus locations and a freestanding emergency center in Corpus Christi. Of the 55,000 HCA employees in Texas, approximately 14,000 are located in the Houston and Corpus Christi area.