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Medicare Study Examines Mental Health Effect of Superstorm Sandy to Improve Future Disaster Response
Date:8/29/2013

East Brunswick, NJ (PRWEB) August 29, 2013

Studies of Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters show that victims of events like Super Storm Sandy can experience a prolonged period of elevated health risk, months or even years after the initial event. Older adults especially are vulnerable to physical and behavioral health issues. To help New Jersey assess who is at risk, Healthcare Quality Strategies, Inc. (HQSI) was awarded a $1.5 million special innovations project grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to measure the behavioral health repercussions of Super Storm Sandy in New Jersey’s hardest hit counties.

The ambitious 12-month project will compare the use of selected Medicare services before and after the massive October, 2012, storm in the FEMA-declared disaster counties. HQSI, the federally designated quality improvement organization for New Jersey, will use the data to identify 10 communities within those counties that have the greatest opportunity for behavioral health-related improvements. HQSI will then help the communities minimize negative health consequences for seniors at increased risk for depression and those with pre-existing mental health illnesses, and to plan for future disasters.

“The more we learn about how this disaster affected our Medicare beneficiaries, the better we can prepare for any future disaster and help ensure the health and well-being of all New Jersey residents,” said Martin P. Margolies, Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Quality Strategies, Inc. (HQSI).

HQSI will use the expertise of its analytic, quality improvement and healthcare staff professionals, as well as a small group of subject-matter experts, to create profiles based on Medicare claims and other available data. HQSI plans to share the completed profiles with behavioral health and disaster planning experts, and facilitate meetings in the targeted communities.

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