LSUHSC public health documents unmet health needs of Katrina-displaced

New Orleans Working with Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, a group of students from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans' School of Public Health found a host of under or untreated medical and mental health conditions affecting adults and children living in FEMA-subsidized housing units (trailers and hotel rooms) in Louisiana. On the Edge: Children and Families Displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Face a Looming Medical and Mental Health Crisis, released this week, reported that the loss of stability, health care providers, workplace, and community, has further complicated the overall health status of displaced residents, especially children.

The students were part of the survey teams who collected data from 665 randomly selected households from February 11-20, 2006. Virtually all the respondents in the study came from one of five Louisiana parishes Orleans (65%), St. Bernard (11%), St. Tammany (10%), Jefferson (7%), and Plaquemines (4%). Fifty-eight percent of the respondents would like to return to their former neighborhoods, 30% would like to relocate elsewhere (including a number of respondents interested in purchasing their FEMA-subsidized travel trailers and then moving them elsewhere), and 11% were still unsure about their future plans.

Study participant LSUHSC public health student Toni Marie Jones said, "I didn't expect to walk the talk so soon. I thought I'd graduate and be eased into it, but that's not going to happen. If you're in public health in New Orleans now, the city needs you."

The purpose of the study was to provide information about the health and social service needs of people living in transitional housing. Not only is such information important to health care providers, but also to preparedness planners and policymakers.

LSUHSC School of Public Health Dean Dr. Elizabeth Fontham noted, "Not only are we using this unique teaching experience, we are helping to meet critical needs that will s

Contact: Leslie Capo
Louisiana State University Health Science Center

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