Alegent Health Offers Grief Counseling after Little Sioux Tragedy
Release Date: 06/12/2008

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OMAHA, Neb. – Alegent Health is offering grief counseling for anyone who needs it following the tornado that hit the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Loess Hills. Four boy scouts were killed in the tornado, three of them from the Omaha area and one from Iowa. More than 40 others were injured in the storm that hit just after dinnertime. Alegent Health Community Memorial Hospital in Missouri Valley, IA received 14 patients from the Boy Scout camp. Eleven were treated for minor injuries and released and three were transferred to the trauma center at Creighton University Medical Center. To help the community deal with the disaster, Alegent Health has set up two grief counseling sites – one at Immanuel Medical Center and one at Community Memorial Hospital in Missouri Valley, IA. Crisis counselors will help children and adults talk about their feelings and give them some coping skills for the days and weeks ahead. “Helping the community handle this kind of tragedy is what we’re about at Alegent Health,” said Sheree Keely, vice president of Behavioral Health at Alegent Health. “Those who suffered minor physical injuries may be suffering much more emotionally. We are here to help them and their families mind, body and spirit.” Counselors will be available from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. today in the Immanuel Medical Center conference center, located in the northeast Corner of Immanuel; and from Noon to 8 p.m. today in the Administrative Conference Room at Alegent Health Community Memorial Hospital in Missouri Valley, IA. In addition, anyone needing help can call our crisis line at 402-717-HOPE. Keely says whether or not you were directly affected by this tragedy, it is normal to feel anxious about your own safety, to picture the event in your own mind, and to wonder how you would react in an emergency. It’s important not to pretend that the tornado didn’t happen or to ignore how you’re feeling. On the contrary, talk about what happened and how you’re feeling. Here are some other ways to handle the stress of this disaster:
  • Be patient with yourself – it’s okay to be sad and scared.
  • Talk about your feelings with someone you trust
  • Create space for yourself
  • Know that it will get better
  • In addition, Keely says it’s important to eat healthy and exercise. She recommends that parents hold tight to daily routines, which children will depend on for normalcy. If your child beings to sleep a lot, starts acting out or is sad more often than not, you may want to encourage them to talk about what they’re feeling. It may be time to seek professional help if you or your child is:
  • Having trouble sleeping or changes in appetite.
  • Recurring thoughts or nightmares about the event.
  • Experiencing anxiety and fear, especially when exposed to events like thunderstorms
  • Being on edge, being easily startled or becoming overly alert.
  • Feeling depressed, sad and having low energy.
  • Experiencing memory problems including difficulty in remembering aspects of the trauma.
  • Feeling "scattered" and unable to focus on work or daily activities. Having difficulty making decisions.
  • Feeling irritable, easily agitated, or angry and resentful.
  • Feeling emotionally "numb," withdrawn, disconnected or different from others.
  • Spontaneously crying, feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness.
  • Feeling extremely protective of, or fearful for, the safety of loved ones.
  • Not being able to face certain aspects of the trauma, and avoiding activities, places, or even people that remind you of the event.
  • “These feelings are normal in the days and weeks after a traumatic event, like the tornado,” said Keely. “If the feelings continue for six months or longer then it is time to see a doctor.” About Alegent Health Alegent Health is the largest not-for-profit, faith-based health care system in Nebraska and southwestern Iowa with nine acute care hospitals, more than 100 sites of service, over 1,300 physicians on its medical staff and 9,000 employees. Alegent Health is making health care better with an exceptional commitment to quality and by providing patient focused care for the body, mind and spirit of every person consistent with its faith-based mission. Alegent Health continues the health ministry begun by its sponsors, Catholic Health Initiatives and Immanuel Health Systems, more than a hundred years ago. At Alegent Health, patients and their families find a continuum of care, from women’s and children’s services, primary care, wellness counseling, and senior care to cardiovascular services, orthopaedics, oncology, physical rehabilitation, home care and behavioral health. Alegent Health is online at www.alegent.com.