MountainStar sends 30 caregivers to help with Harvey and Irma relief efforts

Nurses, physicians and other medical providers with the company from across the Wasatch Front deploy to Florida and Texas to help colleagues in hurricane-affected areas.

When Ogden nurse Shawna Crane recently arrived at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson, Fla., the human suffering she witnessed in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma was immense. 

Crane and about 29 other caregivers from other MountainStar Healthcare facilities in Utah have flown to Florida and Texas to offer their help with relief efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, working within hospitals and outpatient sites run by MountainStar’s parent company, HCA Healthcare.

Crane, a registered nurse at Ogden Regional Medical Center, said nurses on the ground after Irma are working four to five shifts in a row, often sleeping on site to ensure patients get needed care. 

“It’s been so nice to come here and help and to give the regular staff a break so they can go home and rest,” Crane said in a written statement from the region. “The best part is that we have each other.”

MountainStar chief nursing executive Jennifer Wagenaar said she was proud of the outpouring of volunteers choosing to help peers in the affected areas.

“Their willingness to put their lives on hold in order to meet a critical need for medical care and support their HCA family is quite remarkable,” Wagenaar said in a statement.

More than 250 caregivers at HCA facilities across the country have volunteered their services to area hospitals in light of the storms. Volunteers from MountainStar range include nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, technicians, behavior health specialists and hospital administrators.

Hurricane volunteers were deployed from MorningStar’s Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem; St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City; Ogden Regional Medical Center in Ogden; Cache Valley Hospital in North Logan; and Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful. 

Ally Okazaki, a nurse at Timpanogos Regional, headed to Florida on Sept. 8 to take care of evacuated patients who were transferred from hospitals in high-risk areas before Hurricane Irma came ashore. She and other critical care nurses from the Orem hospital will remain in the hurricane zone for two weeks in hopes of easing pressures on Florida emergency workers.

“That is why we are here,” Okazaki said in a statement. “We can just focus on taking great care of patients because our families are safe and sound in Utah.”