Louisiana Nursing Homes Recovering From Hurricane Isaac’s Damage

Residents were evacuated from Riverbend Nursing Center as Isaac intensified on Wednesday

Hurricane Isaac tore through Louisiana this week, flooding sections of the state and leaving hundreds of thousands of residents without power. Isaac came right on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the storm that devastated New Orleans seven years ago, but fortunately did not impact the region with the same magnitude. As the Times-Picayune points out, though, Louisiana’s health care system is still struggling to recover from the damage wreaked by this week’s storm:

Overall, 21.5 percent of the state’s nursing homes were operating on generator power after losing electrical service, state officials said. Across the state on Thursday, at least 59 nursing homes housing 6,366 residents, along with 36 hospitals, were operating on generator power.Officials were planning to evacuate six more nursing homes across the state that were endangered by floodwaters. […]

Another concern for health officials was what to do about residents who rely on home medical equipment, many of whom did not evacuate the city and lost power during the storm. A medical special needs shelter was set up in New Orleans on Thursday to provide electricity and support with the help of federal disaster medical teams.

City officials worked well into the night Wednesday for a third night to help bring back a range of healthcare assets that, [New Orleans’ health commissioner] said, “often get forgotten.” Those included dialysis units, psychiatric hospitals, and substance abuse and mental health living programs.

The city’s emergency rooms saw an influx of patients over the past few days, and medical professionals had to pool their resources to cope with evacuations, blackouts, and compromised facilities. One hospital CEO noted that the public health sector in Louisiana is able to be resourceful partly because they are already accustomed to dealing with shortages and budget cuts.

While Isaac was hitting the Gulf Coast, Republicans were gathering at their national convention in Tampa, focusing most of their time on decrying government assistance’s role in bolstering the success of American individuals and programs. However, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) adopted somewhat of a different attitude after contending with the hurricane’s effect on his state — he reached out to President Obama for more federal aid to provide emergency disaster relief services for his constituents. His party has endorsed a budget that would slash these very funds.