September 8, 2005
I want to update all of you regarding Johns Hopkins' efforts to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief. First, let me express my personal appreciation for the overwhelming and heartfelt response from the entire Hopkins community. We have more than 500 registered volunteers, with a wide array of expertise. Let me also express my appreciation to the CEPAR team, composed of members from throughout the institutions, for their extraordinary dedication to organizing the Johns Hopkins response. Finally, the support and close attention by our institutional leaders has been a great comfort and continued encouragement.
More than 700 hospitals from around the nation have formally registered their offers to help, while more than 10,000 individuals have registered and offered their personal services and expertise. During this past week the situation on the ground has been extremely fluid, and strategies to deal with the health aspects of the situation have changed faster than the ability to alter a strategic approach. Originally, HHS had planned to place forty 250-bed field hospitals within the stricken area. They have established ten. This entire program has been reevaluated and will no longer proceed, as most of these field sites have not proven to be needed, and even the ten sites established are contracting.
The current emphasis of the health relief program is changing from acute care and trauma to secondary and tertiary specialty care and public health initiatives. HHS now feels it best to support the existing structure of health care as much as possible. Assistance to support this infrastructure from without is anticipated, and the concept of rotating teams of medical and public health volunteers remains.
There is a significant possibility that the resources we and the response teams have assembled will still be needed and deployed. It is anticipated that the need for rotating support teams will remain for months. We have been asked to be patient in this regard.
The major deployment to Meridian, Mississippi, for which we had initially mobilized, is a casualty of the change in needs and policy. Many other institutional deployments throughout the country have suffered a similar fate. However, CEPAR is exploring a way to provide similar support with NIH to other specific sites in the Gulf Coast region. It is our hope that this initiative will be better suited for our expertise in secondary and tertiary care. This deployment, if it develops, would occur over the next two to four days. I ask all of our volunteers to continue to be patient regarding potential deployments. We want to send our teams to a safe environment where our expertise is in fact needed.
The CEPAR-American Red Cross deployments for health assessments were highly successful and provided much needed information regarding local needs. These small teams from CEPAR will continue to be engaged over the next few weeks. Also, our team in Jefferson Parish (deployed on September 5th) is safe, doing well, and earning Johns Hopkins a deservedly shining reputation.
We will keep you informed of these rapidly changing developments and again ask that our assembled teams remain patient.
Additional information on the Johns Hopkins response to Hurricane Katrina, in both medical and non-medical areas, is being frequently updated and remains available at webapps.jhu.edu/jhuniverse/today/katrina.cfm.
The CEPAR Web site is at http://www.hopkins-cepar.org/.
Gabor D. Kelen, M.D.
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