Learn more about how HCA Healthcare employees across the country are living out the HCA mission in response to these events and how they are relying on preparedness, emergency response and recovery response tactics to exhibit that above all else we are committed to the care and improvement of human life.
The commitment and dedication displayed before, during and after hurricanes Harvey and Irma rings true in every story shared. We are thankful that so many have been generous with their experiences, and we are honored to be able to share those experiences with you.
Some of our HCA colleagues lost everything they owned during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Geri Collins, a surgery nurse at Houston Northwest Medical Center, knows this all too well.
As Hurricane Harvey raged through Houston, Geri Collins watched water levels rise on the street. Collins and her family had moved all of their belongings to the second floor of their home to avoid water damage, not knowing that they would never see those possessions again.
The family was told that they did not need to evacuate their home that night, even though water had slowly started to flood the first floor. When Collins woke up the next morning, the water on the street had risen to almost six feet, and there was smoke coming from the garage beside the home.
“Our garage was on fire, and we knew we needed to be rescued at that point,” Collins said. “The water pressure was so strong against our door that my husband had to take the door off its hinges so we could leave the house.”
When leaving her home with her husband and son, Collins brought only her dog, her husband’s prescriptions and her cell phone. “I thank God that I was wearing my wedding ring because I couldn’t go back for jewelry or anything else,” Collins said. Since the smoke alarms went off, the family’s cat was scared away and was unable to be found when the family escaped.
Collins and her family went out to the street to wait for rescue crews around 6:15 a.m. and were finally taken to safety at 8 a.m. The family was watching the news when, to their surprise, they saw their home on the television screen completely destroyed by the garage fire.
“I can say that at that point we were homeless, but not hopeless. We still have each other, our strong faith, our family and friends,” Collins said. “We have lost our stuff, but God is still in control and taking care of us.”
Once she spoke with her insurance company and knew where she would need additional assistance, Collins reached out to the HCA Hope Fund.
“I am extremely grateful for the Hope Fund,” Collins said. “After losing the house and cars, our insurance company was able to put us in a furnished apartment. The HCA Hope Fund helped with other necessities like transportation, groceries and clothing.”
Tony D. Jones was the Parallon volunteer who assisted Collins and her family. Jones walked Collins through the next steps and gave her all of the information she would need moving forward.
“I have supported the Hope Fund since its inception with Hurricane Katrina and felt honored to be asked to be a part of the team that went to Houston,” Jones said. “When I got home, my son asked me to sum up my experience in one sentence. I had a hard time – I actually got choked up, but I was finally able to say, ‘It was emotionally and mentally exhausting, but so rewarding to be a part of it all.’”
More than $2.8 million in assistance has already gone out to HCA employees in need following the havoc wreaked by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and more than 5,000 donors have utilized the company’s special match and doubled their gift. There continues to be great need for our HCA colleagues, as many lost everything they own and many others are working to repair the damage left by the storms.
The Hope Fund, the company’s employee assistance nonprofit organization, currently receives about 30 requests for assistance each day, and there is still more than $350,000 in matching funds available through the special match HCA has offered to help respond to the needs of our employees.
HCA employees, vendors, affiliated physicians, patients and the general public can make tax-deductible donations to the fund. To make a donation, click here.
Nurse Gerri Collins is still hopeful after losing her home and vehicle to Hurricane Harvey. She shared photos with HCA Today below.
Houston Northwest Medical Center is a new member of the HCA Gulf Coast Division.