By Chris Casey | University Communications
AURORA, Colo. - Stephen Lee, a student in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, called his recent trip to New York City to help patients affected by Hurricane Sandy "a humbling experience."
Lee spent two weeks in mid-November with the CO-DMAT-2 team (Disaster Medical Assistance Team Colorado-2) in Queens, N.Y., providing medical treatment to about 150 people staying at a shelter at York College. Lee said the bulk of his team's work occurred at the shelter, which was also manned by the city, Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency.
At least 15 of the patients needed acute care for conditions such as diabetes and heart ailments.
"We checked vitals often on these patients. I worked with doctors, nurses, PAs, medics, etc. at the location," said Lee, who is in the School of Pharmacy class of 2013. "There was a pharmacy cache, with a lot of meds, and my job was to correctly document pharmaceutical treatment, make recommendations and manage inventory."
Lee, who was part of a six-member CO-DMAT-2 team, said he frequently acted as the pharmacist at the shelter, but also had technician and intern duties. "The DMAT team treated the acutely ill patients, and acted like a doctor's 'clinic,' so that patients with problems could come to us to get medical treatment," Lee said.
By around Nov. 19, the electricity had been restored to areas where the majority of the patients lived. Those who still didn't have power at home were given temporary housing at hotels.
"I didn't get to see too much of the damaged areas, but got to interact with the patients," Lee said. "It was a humbling experience, and felt good that I was able to help out the cause. When we were released, I was able to visit the 9-11 memorial, which was also pretty cool."
Lee has served on the CO-DMAT-2 team for three years. He learned of the team, which is rapid-response team to supplement local medical care during times of emergency, while working at the University of Colorado Hospital.
Lee said as part of CO-DMAT-2, members get put "on call" for certain months. He's been "on call" when he doesn't have school. "I was on call for the month (of November) and, coincidentally, the timing worked out really well for Sandy and I was sent to New York/New Jersey."
(Photo: Stephen Lee, a Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences student, displays some of the medications he was in charge of distributing at a shelter in Queens, N.Y., in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.)