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In Their Words...

  • When asked what medical needs were anticipated and effectively addressed, Dr. Barrocas responded:

    "Initially, we had supplies; we had drugs. . . .The pharmacy wholesaler had been contacted. The Food Services Director and staff had gone ahead and secured the anticipated supplies as previously discussed. By Wednesday, we began rationing food and water. Our maintenance and engineering staff under the leadership of Karl Warner, along with some volunteers, ventured in chest-deep water through the water moccasin populated lobby and parking lots to the medical office building across from the hospital (Medical Center of East New Orleans). With the help of a pass key, they entered every doctor’s office ...

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  • Susan D’Antoni, Executive Director of the Orleans Parish Medical Society at the time of Hurricane Katrina described the impact of the disaster as follows:

    "We started out with 11 hospitals in New Orleans . . . I think three were back open by November or December. Touro Infirmary never closed. So we lost several hospitals. We lost ancillary services. We lost clinics. We lost doctors’ offices. Physicians had very different scenarios as to their professional and personal loss, which dictated when they could or would come back. If a physician lost his or her home, but yet had a surviving medical practice, then it meant facing the considerable challenge of finding unaffected and available housing, j...

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  • A model of best practices for disaster preparation and response was described by Dr. Lenworth Jacobs of Hartford, Connecticut:

    The governor declares a state of emergency. At that point, different laws come into play and different assets are made available for use in the disaster response.

      1. People have to know what it means to be in a state of emergency. The specific type of emergency will determine what changes are to be expected. Needs must be assessed, and there must be an agreement with those who can meet the specific need as to what will be done and how payment will be arranged.
      2. People from diverse disciplines (e.g., health, secur...
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  • Although many have been able to rebuild their practice following Katrina, many others were not able to do so. Dr. Kevin Stephens was the Director of the Health Department in New Orleans prior to Katrina and had a gynecology practice. He gave the following account of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on his private practice: 

    "I had four feet of water or five feet of water in my office. It was one story, so I lost all of my records, all my equipment, furniture; you name it – the whole kit and caboodle . . . Had I had electronic medical records, that would have been ideal. Not having that, paper records just – just – it just destroyed everything. And that was really traumatic. . . Wind damage, floo...

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  • Dr. Karen DeSalvo was able to compare the extent of preparedness among the three New Orleans hospitals with which she is affiliated: Tulane, Charity, and the Veterans’ Administration (VA) hospitals:

    "We work at three hospitals, and I would say their degree of preparedness varied remarkably. And from a cultural standpoint, Tulane Hospital seemed the most prepared, which was surprising to me. I was expecting the VA to be more prepared, but they appeared to be fairly unprepared. And obviously the Charity University system was pretty unprepared."

    "If you were to actually look without talking to people, what is said is essentially true, that all of the hospita...

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  • Dr. Mark Townsend, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, described the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the mental health field and the current status of mental health services in this part of the state: 

    "We really are stuck, because we do not have . . . the money yet, apparently, to build new clinics. . . Outreach programs, I think would be essential. I am actually the medical director of one that ran out of the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital right after the storm. So yes, I understand that Governor Jindal . . . recommended to the legislature to provide money for three ACT teams which do just that, they . . . take the treatment to the patient. They’re not up a...

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    Click here to read a brief biography of Mrs. Linda Wranosky
    Contact Mrs. Linda Wranosky

     

    Ms. Wranosky addressed the importance of updating contact information in managing communication and coordination of services:

    "Mr. Gremillion and Dr. Van Hoo...

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  • Dr. Cassidy described the networking, coordinating, and teamwork that was critical in setting up a field hospital at Kmart to accommodate those with less critical health issues. When they first entered the space, it was filthy and had to be cleaned up to function as a field hospital:

    "So [Mark] Lumpkin had gotten like 100 volunteers to come. People from Healing Place and Chapel on the Campus started showing up. And moving stuff in. The engineers – several of my engineers, a great group . . . The whole group, just incredible. And that’s the thing when you have a church is you have some 50-year-old guy like me who is a contractor and you have somebody else that knows somebody that you can rent th...

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    Click Here for a brief biography of Dr. Norman McSwain
    Contact Dr. Norman McSwain

     

    With the emphasis from disaster experts on the importance of developing a core response team that meets regularly prior to the disaster, the question arises of how to foster collegia...

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  • Dr. Charles L. McGarvey was the Team Leader for the Public Health Services (PHS) deployment team (Alpha Team) and coordinated services for evacuees at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC) on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge. At that time, he was a Captain in the US PSU with a clinical position at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He describes the successes experienced in providing triage and stabilization for over 16,000 individuals over a 9-day period and the support he received from LSU and other local resources in the process:

    "The PMAC Field Hospital was designed as a triage activity so evacuees could be assessed and receive necessary medical care someplace else. ...

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  • Dr. Peter DeBlieux supported Dr. Buras’s point as follows:

    "The resources and the planning, both from LSU’s stand point, the hospital’s stand point, were right on. We knew that there could be a flood. The anticipation was that the water would come and the water would go. Directly after the storm, we were able to walk around the hospital, walk to the Superdome and back unimpeded. That night after the levees broke, it became problematic. The anticipation was that the water would come up and the water would go down, not that the water would come up and stay. Result, the hospitals in the surrounding areas had no high-water vehicles; both Charity Hospital and University Hospital could not be accesse...

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  • Another example of successful coordination and collaboration was provided by Dr. McKnight, a Baton Rouge nephrologist:

    "We always, as soon as hurricane season starts, have two weeks of supplies on hand for every single patient. Normally we have about a week’s worth, but we always get at least two weeks’ worth, so we had extra supplies on hand. Then I called the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) and told them who I was and what our dialysis plan and needs were. I gave them my cell phone number to call me and we routinely checked in. When OEP heard from Network 13 that potentially 5000 patients were coming into this area, OEP called me and said, "We need to set up a dialysis facility at the ...

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  • Dr. John Van Hoose credits the progressive, proactive leadership of the mayor of Lake Charles with guiding the city to develop a comprehensive disaster plan that emphasizes local accountability for emergency response. He described a mutual aid group that meets monthly for the sole purpose of anticipating and planning for the unexpected disaster:

    "There is a mutual aid meeting . . . that meets monthly where the Office of Public Health, the Homeland Security. . . people from the hospital, me from the Medical Society, EMS people are there to discuss disaster preparations."

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  • Comments from Lieutenant Commander Joe Leonard coming soon...

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  • St. Tammany Hospital in Covington did not flood, but the hospital did lose power. Dr. Phillip Gardner described the precautions the hospital had in place in the event of a hurricane:

    "The hospital across the street, St. Tammany Parish Hospital, sustained very little damage from Hurricane Katrina. It did not sustain, if I recall correctly, any broken glass in the building itself. There was some water blown down a couple of the elevator shafts, which caused some problems with the elevator shafts being out of commission for a period of time afterwards."

    "St. Tammany Hospital has a redundant generator system which is located well above sea level and either on...

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  • The following quote from Dr. Kevin Contreary captured the false sense of security that pervaded a city situated below sea level on the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchartrain just 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico:

    "I think it’s fair to say no one was really prepared for Katrina. That was a shot out of the darkness that nobody, I think, in their wildest imaginations really thought would happen, you know. We all talked about the Armageddon scenario, the right hurricane coming right up the mouth of the river. . . But, I do not think anybody really thought that it would happen, you know."

     

    Dr. Contr...

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  • Dr. Mattox was heavily involved in the disaster response efforts in the Houston area. He described a national trauma network through which communication with trauma specialists in New Orleans regularly occurred: 

    "Being a trauma surgeon, the most sophisticated integrated, collaborative network of disaster response in the world is among the trauma systems in the United States put together by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma. And that’s been in place now since the mid or late 1970s. It is a linkage where the directors of trauma programs in each state, each region, and in each designated trauma center literally know each other, and it’s an extremely sophisticated hierarchical a...

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    Click here to read a brief biography of Mrs. Charlene Baudier

    Contact Mrs. Charlene Baudier

     

     

    At the time of Katrina, Mrs. Charlene Baudier directed only Jefferson Parish medical services. When Ms. Dantoni moved to Washington, DC, following Katrina, Mrs. Baudier took on those responsibilities as well. She described ...

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  • Dr. Floyd Buras, the President of the LSMS during Katrina and Rita, intimated that the preparations that were in place at the time of Katrina would have been adequate had the levee system held. In his estimation,

    "If the levees had held, New Orleans would have been cleaned up in two days."

     

    Dr. Buras, a New Orleans native whose practice is now one-fifth the size it was prior to Katrina, was able to provide some perspective on the financial costs of struggling to rebuild a practice in the current environment:

    "But what happened was so many people just g...

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    Contact Louis Trachtman, M.D., M.P.H

     

    Dr. Louis Trachtman gives interesting historical insight into the unique aspects of Hurricane Katrina and the efforts to shelter those in need of assistance:

    "Years ago they’d set up a shelter in the City Hall, but in more recent years since the Superdome was built, it was in the Superdome. And in recent years, it’s been just for persons...

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  • Dr. Louis Minsky addressed the importance of ongoing planning meetings in the success of handling masses of evacuees:

    "The department and parish had established emergency planning under the MMRS, the Metropolitan Medical Response System, which came under the auspices of the federal government. The committee which I headed during the pre-Katrina time primarily involved local and regional hospitals and medical groups communicating and developing plans of action should an event occur. Before Katrina, "an event" was to be a terrorist attack on American soil."

    "Region 1 MMRS includes the nine parishe...

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    Click here to read a brief biography of Mr. Frederick Young
    Contact Mr. Frederick Young

     

    The following statement by Mr. Fred Young, CEO of Methodist Health System Foundation, Inc., underscores the dramatic difference made by the Mississippi River floodwaters at Methodist Hospital in New Orleans East: 

    "The storm was over and everybody was . . . surveying the...

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  • Dr. Jordan provided an interesting approach used by Touro to enable evacuating patients to carry their medical records with them:

    "It goes into a binder. The patient puts on a smock and it goes with the patient. The smock says "I’m a Touro patient. Call 1-800-401-Touro." And the record is in the smock with them so if they have to leave in a hurry, record, contact information, hard copy and electronic disk goes with the patient, with their images and all kinds of stuff."

     

    Dr. Jordan described the efforts of Touro’s CEO and board members to assist in evacuating the hospital:

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  • Dr. John Wales of East Jefferson Memorial Hospital provided an overview of the loss of medical resources in the New Orleans area post-Katrina:

    "Well, I think one of the biggest problems is the loss of healthcare facilities. First of all, there is loss of population which is probably fine because I think the sickest people should be the first to leave and the very last to come back. For a while, they were coming back quicker than [the medical personnel] could provide services, which I thought was a big problem which should have been addressed way upfront. I think there should have been some public service announcements to really say "Before you come back, if you’re a patient who received care, p...

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