Posts Tagged ‘Gulf Coast’

Katrina Kids Facing Psychological Woes Five Years Later

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

One-third of Katrina kids studied are living with psychological or behavioral problems.  Children who lived through and were displaced by Hurricane Katrina are showing serious emotional or behavior problems five years after the monster storm.  According to a new study by the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness more than one in three children studied – all of whom were forced to flee their homes in the August 2005 hurricane – are living with mental health diagnoses.  Nearly 50 percent of families studied still report household instability.

“If children are bellwethers of recovery, then the social systems supporting affected Gulf Coast populations are still far from having recovered from Hurricane Katrina,” according to the researchers.  David Abramson of Columbia University, the study’s lead author, said the research team was surprised by the level of distress.  Children are “a bit of a canary in a coal mine in that they really represent a failure or a dysfunction of many, many other systems in the community,” Abramson said.  The report notes that five years after Katrina, 20,000 of the children studied still have acute emotional disorders or behavior problems; many still do not have a permanent home.  More than 160,000 Gulf Coast children were not able to return to their homes for at least three months after Katrina struck.

“Five years after Katrina, there are still tens of thousands of children and their families who are still living in limbo with a significant toll on their psychological well-being,” said co-author Irwin Redlener, who is president of the Children’s Health Fund, which funded the study.  The researchers have been studying 1,079 families from Louisiana and Mississippi for nearly five years.  They have found that 38 percent of 427 children have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression or a behavior disorder in that time.

Joy Osofsky, a psychologist with Louisiana State University’s Health Sciences Center, said it’s important to note that children as a whole recover more quickly than others from impoverished families that Abramson and Redlener are studying.

Rural Family Practice Physician Chosen as Surgeon General

Friday, July 24th, 2009

President Obama has chosen a little-known family practice physician who runs a small clinic in a rural community on Alabama’s Gulf Coast as his Surgeon General of the United States.  She is Dr. Regina Benjamin,  who has spent her career tending to the healthcare needs of the poor.  According to Obama, “When people couldn’t pay, she didn’t charge them.  When the clinic wasn’t making money, she didn’t take a salary for herself.”artbenjaminnominationgi

Dr. Benjamin has committed herself to fighting the preventable illnesses that prematurely took the lives of both her parents, as well as her brother and sole sibling.  According to Dr. Benjamin, “I cannot change my family’s past, but I can be a voice to improve our nation’s healthcare for the future.”

Dr. Benjamin’s medical education was paid for by the National Health Service Corps, a federal program where students agree to pay back by working in areas that lack physicians for a specified time.  To honor that obligation, she founded the not-for-profit Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in 1990 in the fishing village of Bayou La Batre, AL.  She remains the practice’s CEO.

The clinic, which was heavily damaged by Hurricanes Georges and Katrina, burned to the ground several years ago.  Every time, Dr. Benjamin rebuilt, even if it meant mortgaging her house or maxing out her credit cards.  Despite the setbacks, Dr. Benjamin remains dedicated to providing quality healthcare to the village’s 2,500 residents.

Benjamin is a stark contrast to Obama’s first nominee for Surgeon General – Sanjay Gupta, a glamorous TV personality and globe-trotting neurosurgeon who raised the hackles of Senators and withdrew his nomination.

The Surgeon General post, which is used primarily as a bully pulpit on healthcare initiatives, requires Senate confirmation.