The Best Job in the World: Dr. Duclos deployment to Florida for Hurricane Michael disaster relief.

January 15, 2019

"I have the best job in the world," said Dr. Sharon Duclos, MD when describing Peoples Community Health Clinic. "I work with a group of people that truly care for others. I see compassion every day. I see so many dedicated to improving the quality of life for others. I am honored to be a part of the lives of my patients, to improve the quality of health, and along the way, to share in the laughter and tears of life."

Dr. Duclos has been a practicing physician for 26 years. Along with her role at Peoples Community Health Clinic, Dr. Duclos is also involved in disaster relief. Since her residency in Louisiana, Dr. Duclos has been deployed to 7 natural disasters across the nation from here in her home state of Iowa (Cedar Rapids Floods) to Louisiana (Hurricane Katrina). Most recently, she was deployed to Florida to aid with the disaster relief of Hurricane Michael.

Hurricane Michael, the first Category 4 hurricane in the region, made landfall on October 10, 2018. As the storm moved north, it created more and more destruction in the area. It transformed from a hurricane to a tropical storm and then to an extratropical cyclone before dissipating 6 days later.

By October 28, at least 60 deaths, as well as billions of dollars in damages, had been reported attributed to the storm.

Here's where Dr. Duclos comes into the story.

As a member of the Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), Dr. Duclos was deployed with 34 other professionals to Florida by the Agency of Health and Human Services in the federal government.

"There's a variety of jobs that they have us do," Dr. Duclos explained. "Our original mission was to get paired up with urban search and rescue and so as a search the houses that there were people who were injured, then our job was to evaluate and assess them and stabilize them until we could get them somewhere else."

The team was deployed to Wewahitchka, a small community about 30 miles from the coast to set up a primary care clinic.

"We saw patients we saw anywhere between 20 and 25 patients a day," the doctor said. "All their primary care [staff]at that point, they weren't back. And so that's the big thing because everybody's pretty devastated. I did a lot of suturing. I saw a lot of rashes, you know, I had a couple of heart attacks. I had a stroke, a lot of mental health issues, some substance abuse issues, as people, you know, as the day progresses, you know, in everything is disrupted. Then you start to see how the chronic illnesses to articulate worse.”

Dr. Duclos felt compelled to help others especially those facing natural disasters during Hurricane Katrina. After witnessing her friends suffer devastation, she enlisted in DMAT. After

"It's hard to help people when you're not part of an organization," she said. "Most of us just want to say I'm going to get my car and go, and there's not a lot you can do just to get in your car and go. So, that made me join."

Dr. Duclos continues to serve her community and communities all around the world.

"You see a variety of people, but it's very rewarding because they're still appreciative and come in. And you know you've made a difference."