WBU San Antonio helping in shelters for hurricane victims

By Becky Bridges, SA Campus

SAN ANTONIO – Two weeks after the levees broke and thousands of refugees poured into cities around Texas, medical volunteers are quickly becoming a scarce commodity. For the second week, Wayland Baptist University’s San Antonio campus is volunteering its staff to local shelters to help fill that need.

“The shelters we are staffing are special needs, with evacuees who need around the clock medical care, a lot of hands-on help, and we are honored to serve them in this way,” Col. Robert Morris, director of Wayland’s Professional Institute for Professional Development said.

Morris’ temporary office is a small, crowded room filled with computers and phones ringing constantly – evidence of the generosity of volunteers from around the country. Morris coordinates the volunteer call center full of Wayland staff in partnership with Baptist Child & Family Services, who has been managing the special needs shelters since Katrina victims began arriving in San Antonio September 1. Morris assumed coordination of the volunteer efforts September 4.

Special needs refugees are identified as those in wheelchairs, elderly, infant babies and their families, expectant mothers, hearing and sight impaired, and others who need life sustaining medication, and so on. Only those with special needs are being sent to BCFS, Kevin Dinnin, president of BCFS said. So far, seven shelters have been operating with more than 400 evacuees in the shelters at one time.

“We are expecting up to 100 more to be assigned to BCFS shelters soon of those who remain at KellyUSA, but did not want to move earlier,” Dinnin said.

The next step for their care involves placing families in more permanent and comfortable surroundings. According to BCFS, case managers including social workers from agencies around the state are needed to help find the best placement for the evacuees.

“Each day, we are challenged to fill 90 volunteer openings, including 36 slots specifically for doctors, nurses, EMTs, nurse practitioners and so on,” Morris said. “We have been amazed at the response, doctors and nurses arrive daily from California, Chicago, and all around the country.”