State shelter in Clayton opens for medically fragile evacuees

Ed Crump Image
Thursday, September 5, 2019

CLAYTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Among the shelters being opened across the Triangle for Dorian evacuees, one stands out.

The state's medical support shelter is in the auditorium of the C3 Church in Clayton.

On Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper toured the shelter and met the volunteers from hospitals and agencies across the state who are staffing the medical shelter.

"We appreciate all of you for giving your time and being away from your families too," he told them.

Among them was Laura Fick, the chief nurse at the shelter who volunteered through her employer, Duke Hospital in Durham.

"We have the greatest group of medical professionals, pharmacists, physicians, nurses, medics, nursing assistants, and we come out here and do what we have to," Fick told ABC11.

The man running the shelter explained their mission.

Chuck Lewis with the state's Department of Health and Human Services, told Cooper, "We want to make sure the patients that are medically fragile -- that may not be sick enough to be in a hospital but may not be well enough to be in a general population shelter -- then we've got a space for them here.

"So we can manage those patients without inundating hospitals but also keeping those patients in an appropriate medical type facility," he said.

The governor also met the lead pastor at C3 Church, Matt Fry, and Fry's wife, Martha.

This is the third time the church has provided the community with shelter space during a storm.

"People who are so passionate and committed to helping others, and I know this church is that. And we really do appreciate you making this available," the governor told the Frys.

The pastor responded, "Our vision to provide real hope for real people in a real world. So we feel like this is why we're here. And so when the opportunity came along we said well let's be the church. Let's be what we're supposed to be and help people. So it's our honor actually."

The governor said cancer patients undergoing chemo and kidney dialysis patients are among the type of people the shelter is designed for.

Fick, the chief nurse, said staffing the medical support shelter is one of the most rewarding things she has ever done.

"These people are frightened. Most evacuated. They lose a lot and they come here. And our biggest job is to make them feel secure and safe and know we're going to take care of their medical needs."

Pastor Fry said if the shelter fills up, the church can provide more space.