Hurricane Ike forces Texas doctor to find new home

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, which devastated much of the Texas coastline, residents at the University of Texas Medical Branch were forced to relocate.

Photo by Sarah Kiewel

Photo by Sarah Kiewel

The UF College of Medicine department of otolaryngology has taken in Camysha Wright, M.D., a fifth-year ear, nose and throat resident from UTMB in Galveston, Texas, until she is able to return home.

“I’m really happy they agreed to let me come here because they didn’t have to,” Wright said.

Wright’s classmates have dispersed to other hospitals in the country until UTMB is able to take them back. The medical branch was flooded through the first floor during the storm and is not estimated to reopen for another one to three months while repairs are being made. Because of the extensive damage, the price tag for recovery is steep, about $710 million when lost revenues and evacuation costs are added in to the price of rebuilding, according to university estimates.

Patients at UTMB were evacuated before the storm, and the hospital is currently only open for emergencies. The doctors at surrounding hospitals have taken on more patients to help, Wright said.

Wright’s transition to Shands at UF has been relatively smooth, but she has encountered some difficulties. She has to learn a new computer system and find her way around a new medical center.

“Everyone has been great here, though, so that makes it easier,” Wright said.

Even though she is settling into her new surroundings, Wright is still dealing with hurricane issues back home. Her house was flooded, and she and her husband lost many of their belongings, including their car. Since he is still working in Texas, it is hard for her to be away from him and have to watch the rebuilding process from afar.

While she is in Gainesville, Wright is staying with fellow resident, Sonia Deshmukh, who has been a great help, she said.

Because she is able to continue her residency while UTMB is being restored, Wright is still on track to complete her training on time in June 2009. She hopes to go into general ENT private practice with a focus on allergies.