When HCA calls for help, employees answer – no matter the circumstance.

Just days before Hurricane Irma would ultimately impact her own community and bring her back home, Lawnwood ED Director Laura Perdue answered the call for help needed in Houston.

“I was notified on Tuesday and there on Wednesday,” she said. “When you get that call, you answer that call.”

Perdue, along with 90 other nurses from across the country, was among the first wave of HCA employees called to provide relief and additional assistance to physicians and nurses who had been working tirelessly around the clock since the onslaught of the storm.

“Everyone was a little nervous and anxious to help.  And clearly praying that everyone was going to be okay.”

When the team landed in Houston and arrived at Conroe Regional Medical Center, they never expected the reception awaiting them. Hundreds of physicians, nurses and staff gathered in the hospital’s three-story atrium to welcome and thank the relief team with posters, balloons, cheers and high fives.

“We kept thinking,” Perdue said, “We are just nurses. We are coming into this area, and this is what you doing for us?’ These people are cheering and so grateful, and we, on the other side, are just grateful to be helping.”

For the next six days, Perdue worked with nurses from across all HCA divisions to care for patients in the ER during the height of the storm. And just one week after arriving in Houston, she packed her bags to head back to Florida – this time, to care for patients during a storm that would hit much closer to home.

“It was hard, constant work. There were tough decisions to be made. And until you’re in that, you don’t realize how tough it is,” said Perdue. “When you see something like a natural disaster that inflicts so much on human beings, it takes things to a completely different level.”

Like many of her colleagues and staff, Perdue was deeply impacted by the mass devastation and destruction inflicted in both areas, but what impacted her most was the resiliency of the human spirit.

“Yes, the devastation is great – it will take months, even years to rebuild in both areas – but the resiliency of the people and our employees is unbelievable. The human spirit has not been fractured.”

Her unique perspective through both storms allowed her to witness story after story of selfless sacrifice, profound compassion and genuine service to others. There were those on her team who continued to serve patients in the midst of coping with personal losses and challenges, while others organized donation drives for personal care items to deliver to those in need, despite suffering substantial losses themselves.

An HCA employee for more than 17 years, it was an experience Perdue will not soon forget.

Perdue recalled how she texted other hospital CNOs from across the country to help send nurses and supplies. And not one individual turned her down.

“That shows you what it’s like working for HCA. You have a corporation that has massive amounts of resources and can mobilize and get them where they need to go,” said Perdue.

“And all you have to do is send a text, and they will absolutely do the right thing. That is amazing.”