Saturday, August 30, 2008

2008 Post-Katrina Elderly Deaths and New Orleans Healthcare Services (Video 4:30 mins.)

The third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s impact on New Orleans, my hometown, arrives with continuing concerns about the elderly and healthcare services in the city.

The journal “Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness” reports the following statistics regarding elderly deaths and Hurricane Katrina:

1. Most Louisiana deaths resulting from Hurricane Katrina were in New Orleans. According to researchers, of the nearly 1,000 who died, almost half were age 75 or older. Keep in mind that even more deaths were indirectly related to the storm.

2. Most elderly persons drowned on the day of the flooding, and more than a third died at home. Many old people refused to abandon their homes, due to potential looting, fear of the unknown, and the possibility that hurricane warnings were a false alarm.

Three years after Hurricane Katrina, the people of New Orleans are still waiting for adequate healthcare services. Even though flooding only occurred in the basement of the famous Charity Hospital, the second-largest hospital in the nation and a primary trauma center, the hospital still remains closed in 2008.

The basement had been cleaned up and ready to reopen in October of 2005, but that never happened. Unresolved issues over plans to build a newer hospital continue to delay progress. To build a new hospital would take years and millions of dollars. Charity Hospital stands empty, while many people must rely heavily on free health clinics or wait in long lines to be seen at smaller remaining hospitals, while their health deteriorates.

This video examines the healthcare crisis in New Orleans.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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