The National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) has sent a letter to Congress calling for an investigation of the federal government's failure to evacuate and provide appropriate services to elderly victims of Hurricane Katrina. According to NCCNHR, a disproportionate number of those who were killed by the storm or died in its aftermath were very old or very disabled and many who were evacuated did not have adequate care at their temporary shelters.
NCCNHR is asking Congress to investigate why there were no "effective plans and infrastructure to evacuate or rescue elderly citizens and prevent their deaths; provide them adequate food, hydration and medications during and after the evacuation; and establish an effective communications system to reconnect them with distraught family and friends." The letter to Congress, which is endorsed by 50 local, state and national organizations, also asks Congress to provide funding for housing, health care, mental health, and transportation needs for displaced elderly and their caregivers and to halt plans to cut Medicaid by $10 billion.
Meanwhile, an article in the New York Times, investigates what happened in hospitals and nursing homes during the hurricane. The article reports that more than a quarter of the dead collected so far in New Orleans were hospital or nursing home patients, most of them elderly. According to the article, hospitals and nursing homes expected to be able to weather the storm for two or three days and were not prepared for massive flooding.
To read the full New York Times article, click here. (Free registration required and article is available free of charge for only one week from publication date.)