Woods earns award for Katrina clinic work

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 3, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; Grace Woods has been recognized as an Unsung Hero by The Democrat for her work running the Concordia Crisis Medical Clinic following Hurricane Katrina.

Now that she&8217;s been honored with a Nightingale award by the Louisiana State Nursing Association, however, the word &8220;unsung&8221; doesn&8217;t really fit anymore.

She has her staff of volunteers to thank for that.

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&8220;She touched us all, and we all agreed she should be commended for it in some way,&8221; Michele Logan said. &8220;She doesn&8217;t like taking credit for anything, but she deserves it.&8221;

Logan, a registered nurse who traveled from Delaware to volunteer at the clinic, spearheaded an impressive nomination effort that included testimony from many of the doctors and nurses Woods recruited and coordinated at the clinic she largely founded.

Woods was charged with handling the medical recovery for Vidalia, a job easier said than done.

&8220;On a daily basis, she overcame obstacles that shut down other relief operations,&8221; Dr. Laura Bajor of Philadelphia said. &8220;Her ability to solve problems under pressure made it possible for the medical personnel to serve hundreds of needy hurricane evacuees with minimal distraction.&8221;

There were plenty of problems and plenty of pressure to deal with, though.

There were the difficulties in finding and securing a steady flow of medical supplies and the almost weekly changes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency&8217;s policy on evacuee prescriptions. There were the headaches of staffing the clinic with out-of-town volunteers and, of course, there was her own night-shift nursing job at Natchez Regional to consider.

&8220;I&8217;m not sure when she slept,&8221; Logan said.

When the clinic closed, after more than six weeks and 900 patients seen, Woods wasn&8217;t finished.

She loaded up the leftover supplies and, in a van the City of Vidalia rented, trucked them down to a clinic in D&8217;Iberville that is serving the evacuee population of the coast.

True to Logan&8217;s prediction, Woods was quick to deflect credit.

She named Riverland Medical Center, the Concordia Parish Sheriff&8217;s Office and numerous local doctors and nurses who contributed to make the whole thing run.

&8220;I feel like every name should be lined up on it (the award),&8221; she said. &8220;I could have worked as hard as I did, day and night, but without everyone&8217;s help, nothing would have gotten accomplished.&8221;