5 Years After Katrina, Gulf Area Still Struggles With Access To Quality Health Care, Mental Health Counseling

WPAT(Jackson, Miss.): "Finding quality health care continues to be a challenge in the New Orleans area. Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina flooded area hospitals, destroyed buildings and scattered patients. The health care industry has been slow to recover and in some cases, facilities still haven't opened. … Right now, there is no hospital in New Orleans East. They all closed after Hurricane Katrina. Recently, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced a deal that would reopen Methodist Hospital, which will have 80 beds and emergency care services for surgery. Councilman Jon Johnson said it needs to open immediately" (8/25).

Journal of American Medical Association: "As New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf region commemorate 5 years since the deluge, recovery from the storm's mental health blows still is ongoing. Experts say survivors have higher-than-expected rates of stress-related mental health disorders, including depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And the new devastation of the BP Gulf Coast oil spill appears to be compounding that effect. Ronald Kessler, PhD, professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said Katrina survivors who were spared severe stress have not had persistent problems. But those who were hardest hit—for example, those who lost a loved one or a home—continue to struggle" (Voelker, 8/25).

The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune: "Five years after Hurricane Katrina, the psychological impact on children displaced by the disaster remains substantial, according to a new study. The report, released Monday by the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, found that 60 percent of children who were relocated after the hurricane to settings with other victims, such as hotels and trailer parks, have serious emotional disorders, behavior issues and/or continue to face housing instability. More than one-third of the children displaced by the hurricane have been diagnosed with a mental health problem, such as depression, according to the report. Among parents who sought professional mental health help for their children, less than half received assistance, the report said" (Alpert, 8/23).

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