Patients With Chronic Conditions Worsened By Lack Of Disaster Plan During Hurricane

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Inadequate disasterpreparedness plans resulted in many people with chronic diseases havingdifficulty finding daily medications and physicians to manage their conditionsafter Hurricane Katrina, according to a report released on Monday by theUniversity of South Alabama College ofMedicine, the AP/Biloxi Sun Herald reports.

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The study interviewed patients and health care providers from Biloxi,Miss., to Mobile, Ala.,and found that patients with chronic conditions -- such as diabetes,hypertension and HIV -- had to focus on basic survival, and as a result, theirdiseases progressed, according to study co-author Errol Crook, chair ofinternational medicine at the university. The stress of the situation, lowsupply of treatments and lack of healthy food recommended for people withconditions such as hypertension and diabetes all were contributing factors, thestudy found.

A co-author of the study, Martha Arrieta of the university's Center for Healthy Communities, said that usually disaster plansfocus on acute illnesses, trauma and infectious disease. Because of this,patients with chronic conditions "are often left to their own devicesafter a disaster," according to the AP/Sun Herald. Arrietasaid that stocking up on healthy food and coordinating efforts to distributesupplies more efficiently should be part of future disaster plans.

The study recommended that medical facilities and pharmacies improve disasterpreparation, including stockpiling medicines, creating and practicing disasterplans, and sharing those plans with patients and surrounding health carefacilities (AP/Biloxi Sun Herald, 12/18).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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