By Don Teague Correspondent
NBC News
updated 9/8/2005 6:27:36 PM ET 2005-09-08T22:27:36

Surrounded by tons of garbage left behind at the Superdome, a small group of soldiers digs through what’s left of medical supplies at a former triage area.  Just outside, one of Louisiana’s top doctors calls for help on the first working cell phone he’s had access to since the storm.

Doctor Keith Van Meter is desperately trying to re-open Charity Hospital’s Emergency room, a “level one” trauma center.

“I’ve talked to the National Guard and they are willing to provide a totally air conditioned and electrified with sanitation plug-in,” explains Van Meter.

He’s head of Charity Hospital’s Emergency Department and says, with a little help, it could be back in business.

“I’ve canvassed the majority of the faculty,” says Van Meter, “and they are ready to go.”

Doctor Van Meter was among 1,200 people stranded inside Charity Hospital for five days.  Despite the ordeal that left 20 patients dead, he says his doctors are ready to return.

Water still surrounds this hospital, but it never got inside. Today, all of the medical equipment inside is dry and ready to go—all they need is power.

Field hospital equipment from the National Guard could provide everything needed to re-open the emergency room, and they’re willing to provide it, but they need orders from the governor.

Doctor Van Meter hopes Thursday’s phone call started the process. 

In the meantime, he and the soldiers savage what medicine they can, just in case.

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