Telemedicine in Post-Katrina New Orleans

When I began reading the assigned article on Telemedicine in Ethiopia, I immediately thought about health issues in post-Katrina New Orleans, particularly relating to mental health.  I did some research a found an interesting article entitled “The Long Road Home: Rebuilding Public Inpatient Psychiatric Services in Post-Katrina New Orleans.”  The article explains that after Katrina, there was an expected surge in people needing mental health treatment due to PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc.  In fact, according to the article, ” The first large empirical assessment of post-Katrina mental health revealed that anxiety- and mood-related mental illness doubled after the disaster.”  Unfortunately nearly half of the city’s psychiatric beds were no longer available due to the closing of Charity Hospital.  Though many psychiatric patients were moved to other hospitals in the state, the lack of trained health professionals in New Orleans after Katrina made treating the increasing number of residents with mental health issues extremely difficult.  The article suggests disaster preparedness plans for mental health services should be put in place, and offer telemedicine as one of the possible solutions to dealing with the lack of available health professionals and increased demand for their services.

What do you think about the effectiveness of telemedicine vs. direct consultation when dealing with people with mental or mood disorders?
Do you see telemedicine as a long term or temporary solution to dealing with the lack of available health professionals in a post-disaster community?

Original Post by Danielle Kraus

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4 responses to “Telemedicine in Post-Katrina New Orleans

  • jessicarschofield

    I was really excited you posted this article because for Outreach Tulane, I volunteered at a site called “Excelth” that is currently using telemedicine to provide mental health services to post-Katrina victims. (http://www.excelth.com/ if you want to check them out). I think it is a wonderful idea (if not- it is certainly better than no care at all) and the CEO told us that they are considered one of the most efficient healthcare organizations in the US! To answer one of your questions, I think telemedicine is more of a short-term fix until proper health centers can be established in post-disaster communities. I think most people would agree that a visit with a physician in person is considerably better/more reliable than a visit via computer.

    Original Comment by Ashley Fox

  • jessicarschofield

    This article was extremely interesting; I really enjoyed reading about health initiatives in post-Katrina New Orleans. The response to health issues after Hurricane Katrina is a good way of comparing issues in developed nations to underdeveloped nations. It also shine light on the problems that we are still having with improving health care in America. By learning what went wrong after disasters like Hurricane Katrina, I feel we will be better equipped to help cause rapid improvements in all nations health sectors by using ICTs.

    Original Comment by Isabella Iupe

  • jessicarschofield

    This article is so interesting, I think it’s important to look at ICT within developing countries so that we can potentially determine the future of those technologies within developing countries. It’s also interesting to point out problems that may arise when looking at different types of health (mental health in this case) and how realistic it would be for them to use ICT.

    Original Comment by Alexandra Quarles

  • jessicarschofield

    I wouldn’t normally reply to these student discussion board posts, but this could be a great case study for someone’s final project for this class. If some of the folks who ran it could be located and interviewed, and more details on the ICT aspects fleshed out, I would love to see someone do this for their project!

    Original Comment by Jessica Ports

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