As floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey rose across greater Houston, heroes emerged to help the community any way they could. For some, it was by rescuing friends, family, even strangers with boats and large vehicles. Still others, like Todd Kielman, physician assistant and instructor in the Department of Urology and an Army veteran, lent their expertise at shelters set up to aid victims of the storm.
Blocked from driving in to the medical center, Kielman and his family decided to volunteer their time at St. Martha Catholic Church in Kingwood where evacuees were being taken in seek of shelter. Arriving at the same time as two busloads of patients from local assisted living facilities, he immediately drew on his 25 years of military experience.
“Being a physician assistant in the Army is all about frontline medicine,” he said. “I did a lot of work in Iraq and Afghanistan, and during those times you immediately figure out that there is a lack of resources and you still have to make things happen. You learn how to think outside the box and use the resources you have to get the job done.”
At the Kingwood shelter, Kielman did a quick assessment. “Some patients that were arriving had their medication and some did not. Other people were aware of what they had and needed and, again, some were not.”
He separated those patients with urgent medical needs and got to work helping them. “We had very little in the way of supplies, and we had several patients that needed critical medications and oxygen. We were not connected to the outside world at all, so using social media I coordinated for supplies, oxygen, and eventually non-standard medical evacuation to Kingwood Hospital,” Kielman said.
A normal day in the office for Kielman consists of running clinics, answering questions and assisting Dr. Larry Lipshultz with procedures. While the storm was anything but normal, Kielman is just glad he was able to help.
“It was a really great feeling contributing in the local community, and my kids getting to see it all first hand was a huge life lesson for them. Plus I may have impressed my wife a bit.”