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Loyola University New Orleans Nursing Faculty Author Seminal New Book on Disaster Response

Loyola press release - September 1, 2015

‘Voices of Angels: Disaster Lessons from Katrina Nurses’ Draws on First-Person

Accounts to Provide Lessons on Emergency Response During Disasters

Fresh off the heels of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a new book written by two Loyola University New Orleans faculty members draws on storytelling and heroic first-person accounts from nurses who worked to save lives in hospitals and health care centers along the Gulf Coast during the days following Hurricane Katrina.

“Voices of Angels: Disaster Lessons from Katrina Nurses,” written by Barbara Gail Tumulty, Ph.D., the late founding director of Loyola’s Health Care System Management Program, and nursing instructor John Batty, is designed to help emergency responders perform in extreme crisis conditions and disasters. The book includes Joint Commission recommendations for hospital catastrophes, thoughts on preparing nurses for disaster response, a chapter devoted to immediate and long-term effects of the Katrina disaster on nurses and the city of New Orleans, and an epilogue, written 10 years after Katrina.

“A new nurse will read this book and become inspired, because what they see is people who are considered by society weak and fragile ― that is, nurses ― rise to heroic levels,” said Batty, a registered nurse and alumnus of Loyola’s Graduate School of Nursing. “They tell me ‘I would never leave. I would stay until the bitter end.’ And that’s inspirational. Who does that? Nobody. Maybe priests, ministers, but very few people care for their fellow man like that, and for many nurses, that’s just part of the job.”

Released in August by Pelican Publishing, the primer devotes chapters to personal accounts and lessons representing the “nurse angels who worked in every Louisiana and Gulf Coast hospital and health care center in Katrina’s wrath,” according to Batty. Stories are included from nurses at the VA Medical Center, University Hospital Pendleton Memorial Hospital, Charity Hospital, Tulane Medical Center, Ochsner Medical Center, Lambeth House in New Orleans and the Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge.

Upon returning to class at Loyola in 2006, Tumulty recognized symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, in some of her students who had worked in hospitals during the storm and days afterward. At the same time, Batty was working at Charity Hospital, interviewing nurses.

“My background is in psychiatric nursing. I have worked in a prison, several in fact, and I could see that everyone was suffering,” Batty said.

The pair spent six years gathering interviews, researching and writing. Extolled by the publisher as a “first-of-its-kind,” the book includes photographs, first-person accounts, information boxes and end-of-chapter lesson reminders that will prove useful to all emergency responders who read the book, from health care workers to police and fire personnel.

Tumulty, who was named professor emeritus of nursing when she retired from Loyola in 2014, died in February, one month after she signed with Pelican Publishing. According to Batty, a former student, she left the world not only a book, but an amazing legacy.

The top-ranked, recently reaccredited online master’s degree nursing program that Tumulty founded at Loyola, with approximately $2 million in federal and state grants, is designed to help nurses who want to become nursing managers, administrators and health care executives to advance their careers.

Now in its 11th year, the Health Care System Management Program in Loyola’s Graduate School of Nursing, has trained more than 1,150 nurses from around the world to be managers and leaders in their field.

More information about Loyola’s Master of Science of Nursing program is available online.