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Katrina Health Case

Hurricane Katrina occurred in August 2005 and caused disastrous destruction and flooding (Henningfeld, 2010). This storm was among the deadliest disasters to have ever happened in the United States. The government response to the catastrophe was ineffective, resulting in the escalation of damages and the loss of lives. This paper discusses the issues faced by victims during the crisis, actions that must be taken to expand Katrina health program, the rationale for action, assumptions made, assumptions made in suggesting the actions, anticipated obstacles that will face the implementation of actions, and measures that should be taken to address the obstacles

Issues Faced by Individuals during the Crisis

Ethical Issues

Individuals, who had medical issues before Hurricane Katrina, experienced deteriorating medical conditions since they were prevented from access to vital prescriptions and treatments such as oxygen, dialysis, and insulin (Gaudioso, 2010). The massive evacuations conducted by the government to the New Orleans airport overwhelmed the medical teams who had decided to perform triage and prioritized airlifts to health care facilities. Thus, the victims, who stayed long hours at the airport, did not receive prompt medical attention. Furthermore, victims were taken to temporary health care facilities, which made them stay far away from their family and vital medical records.

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Policy Issues

The government’s reaction to the crisis was warranting, thereby causing numerous policy issues to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Individuals had been put into crowded areas, which resulted in dehydration and heat stress. The government delay in providing assistance caused multiple people to die from the storm.

Legal Issues

Since medical records were lost or damaged by the Katrina, individuals with Medicaid could not access the services (Kilmer, Gil-Rivas, Tedeschi, & Calhoun, 2010). The safety of response workers was also a significant issue that was not adequately addressed by the government. Many people were covered by businesses that had also been affected by the storm; thus, they terminated their operations. Consequently, these individuals could not access medical services.

Actions that should be Taken to Expand Katrina Health Program

A reliable health information system should be developed to help track all the victims of the hurricane who might require medical help. After the storm, numerous health facilities and systems were damaged. Hence, there is no precise information on the condition of all victims, which might make numerous people suffer from the aftermath of the crisis. Particularly, a reliable health system would help identify the patients who have preexisting medical conditions and assist in prioritizing these patients (Levitt & Whitaker, 2009). The health system should be shared between the state, federal government, and other health care providers. All health care facilities must have a backup of their data. This data should be recovered and input to the new health system, which will facilitate information flow on all victims’ medical records.

The restructuring of the health care facilities in the region should be decentralized. This decentralization would occur by building a smaller charity hospital and many other community clinics. It would help the low-income earners, as the demand for facilities will reduce (Gaudioso, 2010). The purpose of decentralization would be to replace the costly utilization of hospitals with timely ambulatory care, thus increasing efficiency while reducing costs. Moreover, this action would ensure that people in different parts of the state could receive quick medical care.

Since the majority of the population in the city is poor, people have no health coverage. More to say, the state has one of the lowest rates Medicaid coverage in the country (Henningfeld, 2010). Furthermore, many individuals, who had been covered by various firms, lost their cover since the businesses were damaged, thereby ceasing their operations. Therefore, the federal government should subsidize medical covers for people in the state to help them access health services. Additionally, the federal government should spend more money in building specialized health facilities that will cater for additional medical conditions caused by the hurricane. For instance, many victims have suffered from post-traumatic stress; thus, they require counselling.

Rationale for Actions

A reliable health information system would help the local health care facilities keep track of all the victims of hurricane Katrina. Thus, it would enable the relevant health organizations to provide services to all people who have suffered from the disaster. Some of the medical conditions acquired by patients may not be easily noticed by them but they may have adverse effects when not addressed. However, a reliable health system shared among the federal government, state, and other health providers will assist in availing information to health facilities, which will help various health care facilities provide personalized services (Kilmer et al., 2010).

The decentralization of health facilities would help prevent overcrowding in health facilities, which leads to the providing poor services there. Furthermore, this decentralization would divert some of the resources from public hospitals to backup local health care programs that focus on preventive care (Levitt & Whitaker, 2009). The current system where charity hospital is the primary care provider makes it hard for the institution to respond to a crisis since numerous victims come to the hospital.

Subsidizing medical coverage for the city residents would help in ensuring that they access health care services. Numerous people in the region are low-income earners that do not have proper medical coverage since they cannot afford these services (Levitt & Whitaker, 2009). IT should be noted that the citizens in the region are at risk of various diseases, such as cancer, since they do not engage in preventive health care practices.

Assumptions Made in the Suggested Actions

A reliable health information technology system assumes that the healthcare facilities in the region have backed up their data offline in different geographical areas or cloud storages. This presumption is necessary since without backup data, such a system cannot be created. Furthermore, this action assumes that all the concerned stakeholders will be willing to share patient information since they will provide data to the database of the new system (Gaudioso, 2010).

The decentralization of health services assumes that the relevant authorities authorize the process. For instance, the charity hospital was the largest health care institution in the region before Hurricane Katrina had occurred. Thus, decentralization would prompt the charity hospital to build a smaller organization to allow the construction of numerous clinics. This move would require accord from the management of the organization (Henningfeld, 2010). The federal government should also authorize the reallocation of Medicare funds from the charity hospital to building smaller clinics. Subsidizing medical covers presumes that the federal government has the required financial resources since it will involve the government paying part of the insurer’s fee, thus allowing the clients to pay a reduced cost.

Anticipated Obstacles

The health information technology system may take a long time to develop since data has to be recovered first from the health care facilities that have been damaged during the disaster (Kilmer et al., 2010). Moreover, this system is not readily available, and it has to be developed and tested by system developers, which might require plenty of time. Furthermore, several health care facilities could be unwilling to share their data with other institutions.

The federal government has already spent a significant amount of money in rebuilding the city after the disaster. The President ordered an immediate fund of 10 billion dollars to reconstruct the city (Levitt & Whitaker, 2009). Thus, the government may not have money to subsidize the medical cover of the people in the region. The decentralization of services involves numerous bureaucratic processes that may be slow, thereby causing delays in implementing the action.

Measures to Address the Obstacles

Competent system developers will be hired to develop the health technology system. This move will help reduce delays in the process since they will make fewer errors and identify the errors early, which will enable them to correct their mistakes. Fast means of retrieving data like archiving will be used to recover data from the health facilities that was lost during the storm (Gaudioso, 2010). The money required to subsidize medical coverage of people in the state will be obtained from cutting back on the government expenses in other sectors that do not require significant financial resources. Bureaucracy will be discarded in the decentralization process to help enhance it. Once the relevant institutions have authorized the process, plans will be made for its commencement.

Conclusion

Hurricane Katrina had numerous health effects on the citizens in the region. The government’s response to the disaster was ineffective as it was slow causing, many people to die from dehydration, thirst, and the lack of water. The hurricane Katrina program can be expanded by developing an efficient health technology system, allocating more funds to the construction of health facilities, and decentralizing the health care institutions in the region. These actions will help ensure that all the victims are catered for by all relevant parties. The implementation of these measures will face various challenges, including limited funds, bureaucratic processes, and a slow process of developing the system. Nevertheless, these problems can be addressed by reducing expenses of the federal government to obtain more funds, hiring competent system developers to create the health system, and discarding bureaucracy in the decentralization of health care services in the region.

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