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Ref: Louisiana medical research organization studies hurricane response

Shreveport Times

To view the original article, please click the link below:

Grant awarded for emergency preparedness research

January 25, 2007

Related links:
Louisiana State Medical Society Education and Research Foundation: http://www.lsms.org/ERF/activities.htm
Physicians Foundation: http://www.physiciansfoundations.org/
Southern Medical Journal: http://www.sma.org/smj/


By Mary Jimenez
maryjimenez@gannett.com

Louisiana health-care professionals continue to look for better emergency preparedness plans following hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

The Louisiana State Medical Society Educational and Research Foundation recently announced it received a $254,000 grant from the Physicians' Foundation for Health Systems Excellence.

"This is a rather large project and we're really excited about it," said Rachel Alonzo, continuing medical education coordinator for the state foundation, which is based in Baton Rouge.

Selected from more than 200 applicants, the foundation is one of 15 grantees that received more than $5.6 million from the 2006 Excellence in Practice grant program. It funds projects aimed at improving quality of care, patient safety and physician education.

The foundation will use the money to hire a staff for the project, including an administrator, manager and three full-time researchers, and to collect and analyze data from across the state. A technical writer will also be hired at the end of the project to help publish the findings.

The foundation intends to use all available resources from communities that may have already made changes to improve their emergency preparedness plans.

"We aren't trying to invent anything new, but to see what has been done, what's out there and look at how we can all work together," Alonzo said.

Over the next 18 months, the foundation will review disaster plans, communication channels and volunteer coordination efforts throughout the state related to health care during an emergency.

If they want to find out about the relief efforts provided locally, they will have to look no further than the Southern Medical Journal.

Shreveport doctors Phillip Rozeman and Edward Mayeaux authored "Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Case Study of Disaster Recovery," which was published in the December issue.

"It's an article based on our experience and it's a little different from being in the actual disaster area, but it has a lot of similar context," said Rozeman, who was one of several health-care professionals instrumental in helping to set up a shelter health-care system that was successful in its effort.

Rozeman and Mayeaux use three major concepts to offer lessons learned from the 2005 disasters — better use community resources already in place, develop an effective system to tap into volunteerism, and improve communication, both in tools and in the understanding of the chain of command.

Changes locally have already been made that will make the next disaster better.

"We've been working on this through the Medical Reserve Corp. We created a database of 200 health care providers tied to each other electronically with capabilities to contact each other in short order and self-schedule during another disaster," said Rozeman, who carried a list of cell phone numbers in his back pocket that served his network resource in 2005.

But paramount says Rozeman, is having a point person and knowing who that is, which in his opinion is a communities' local Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness office.

"We should all agree we will look to them for leadership," Rozeman said. "They think about these problems every day."

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