DaVita® Stories

DaVita Teammates Brave Hurricane Michael’s Aftermath to Lend a Helping Hand

My name is Alexis Ashford, and I’m a very proud teammate of DaVita Singing River located in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Did I say Mississippi? Yes! I’m originally from a small town called Three Rivers, Mississippi and I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be a part of a dynamic family called DaVita!

I came to DaVita Village not knowing one single thing about dialysis, but I knew for a fact that I wanted to help.  I have been with the DaVita Village for almost eight years now, but I can recall when I didn’t think I would make it eight days! Within these eight years, each of our Core Values has helped mold me into the teammate I am today. I am a Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician, new nursing student, and one of my most recent honors, a part of the Hurricane Michael relief team under the leadership of Disaster Director Mr. Michael Garrison “Mickey”.

When Hurricane Michael was forming here in Mississippi, we did the usual storm prep.  Mississippi has had its share of infamous hurricanes, so we tend to not get anxious and afraid if the storms are not considered to be within a certain category.  As the hurricane began to make its way closer to the gulf, our fears became a reality.  Michael was moving along Florida and upgrading categories fast, in fact too fast for people to evacuate if they changed their minds. The day after the storm hit, we learned that Hurricane Michael had ripped through Florida and could be as destructive as Hurricane Katrina.

Being a Hurricane Katrina survivor, I wanted so desperately to go and assist.  My wish was granted after being asked to join an amazing team from all walks of life. The team made it to Florida the very next day after the storm and immediately went to work.  We did everything from going on search missions to ensure every teammate was accounted for, removing tree limbs from houses, tarping roofs to getting food and water to our teammates.  I was the final one to make it down and the closer of this mission.

The affected teammates I had the honor of meeting and working with opened up more each day, especially after I shared with them my experiences of the hurricane.  Even in a place of devastation and despair, they lived the DaVita Way, continually thanking each of us for everything that was being done.  Under Mickey’s leadership, each affected facility was staffed with teammates for all roles. This was so that the teammates whom were affected by this storm could take a step back and take care of their personal lives with the comfort of knowing that we would be there to take care of their patients and facilities.

I left Pascagoula with the sole intention on going to “help save the day” but in turn, this experience ended up saving me.  I’ll always remember the tears, the hugs, the laughs and resilience from the teammates in Coastal Kidney Care.  I’ll always remember the hugs, love, and down home feeling from the Marianna, FL DaVita location.  I’ll remember my teammates from Singing River DaVita in Pascagoula doing a facetime with me and making sure everyone was alright. I’ll remember the volunteers who had to leave their comfort zone and run to stand beside our fellow teammates in Florida.  I’ll remember the three-hour waits in traffic that it took to get from work back to where we were housed.

Overall, I will remember the moment I got the chance to really and truly be All for One and One for All.  The disaster that helped shape my destiny will always be remembered.  Florida is where I learned that even when you lose everything, it’s still very possible to be a community first and a company second.  I got it!!!!  There’s definitely not an “I” in the word TEAM but I am a reflection of the teams of South Mississippi and WE WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER!

Thank you singing River DaVita FA: Jaime Barfield McGowen

Thank you Region 3 Southern Horizons ROD: Sean Adewale

Thank you Disaster Director: Michael Garrison (Mickey)

And special thanks to the teammates of Coastal Kidney Care, Marianna DaVita, and the teammates of Hurricane Michael Disaster Team!

Alexis Ashford

Alexis Ashford