Stephen Kimmel, MD, a pediatric surgeon at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, was at home on Saturday morning watching the floodwaters rise when he got the call that a patient with a testicular torsion was in need of immediate care.
The emergency call came as Hurricane Harvey was inundating the Houston area, so Kimmel didn’t have the means to get to the hospital on his own. The healthcare facility secured assistance from the local volunteer fire department. They accompanied Kimmel, traveling by foot, pickup truck, and canoe.
“I felt that these guys knew what they were doing, so I didn’t worry about myself at all, the whole time,” Kimmel told CNN. “And we got there is pretty good time, considering how we had to go.”
Kimmel covered the last mile to the hospital by wading through waist-deep water. He says the trip from his home to the hospital usually took 10-15 minutes. On Saturday morning, it was approximately an hour of travel time.
The 16-year-old patient, Jacob Terrazas, and his family faced similar obstacles on their way to the hospital. Houston Public Media reports they were rescued from flooded I-45 by the Webster Fire Department and conveyed to the hospital in an ambulance.
“We are so happy to be here,” the patient’s mother told hospital staff upon arrival. “Jacob was in such pain and was shaking and hardly able to talk when we got here, but everyone here is so helpful. This has been a long night, but this place is wonderful.”
The emergency surgery took less than an hour. The patient was expected to head home after about 48 hours recovery time in the hospital.
“It’s really a privilege to be able to take care of pediatric surgical patients and, you know, it’s a very fulfilling day I have every day,” Kimmel told CNN. “It’s great to take care of kids and see them get better.”