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Decline in health among older adults affected by Hurricane Katrina
Date:1/22/2009

rgency department visits increased 100 percent in the month following Katrina, and by 21 percent over the next year compared to the pre-Katrina year. Hospitalization rates increased 66 percent in the first month after Katrina and maintained an increase of 23 percent over the ensuing year. Using a telephone survey, the study also examined the health of a random sample of enrollees after the hurricane. Researchers believe displacement played a major role in health outcomes. Sixty-nine percent reported moderate or severe damage to their home, or that their home was destroyed. At the end of the year, 28 percent reported their residence remained unlivable and another 28 percent reported a worse financial situation.

"The enormous health burden experienced by older individuals and the disruptions in service utilization reveal the long-term effects of Hurricane Katrina on this vulnerable population," said Jonathan Weiner, DrPH, senior author of the study and director of the Bloomberg School's PhD Program in Health Services Research and Policy. "Although quick rebuilding of the provider network may have attenuated more severe health outcomes for this managed care population, new policies must be introduced to deal with the health consequences of a major disaster."


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Contact: Natalie Wood-Wright
nwoodwri@jhsph.edu
410-614-6029
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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