PA students reckon with Hurricane Irma

Fitzgerald and Discenna among debris left after Hurricane Irma

Four WMU physician assistant students assigned to rotations in Punta Gorda this fall were not expecting to be confronted by a hurricane.  However, in early September, as WMU was beginning classes, they found themselves preparing to evacuate to safer areas.

Goran Crnomarkovic evacuated from where he was staying to Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte, Florida. Goran is assigned to an emergency medicine rotation. He was part of the response team as they remained open during the hurricane.

Two other students, Liz Fitzgerald and Chris Discenna, evacuated to Orlando, where the storm also did damage. After the storm passed, Liz and Chris helped in the neighborhood to cut tree limbs and clean up debris.

Dan Elkins, also a PA student in Punta Gorda, has a house in the area. He evacuated back to Michigan for the storm. Thankfully, he returned to Punta Gorda to find that his home sustained very little damage, only losing one tree in his yard.

All of the students maintained contact with school officials throughout the week to affirm their safety and location. "The students were calm, professional and responsible throughout the entire week," said Donna Stoker, clinical coordinator staff for the department. "We are very proud of their ability to go with the flow and manage a difficult situation with grace."

Left: Students hunkered down with friends during Hurricane Irma.
Right: Debris cleanup begins after the hurricane had passed.