Magazine article The Nation's Health

Book Details Health Worker Stories from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Book Details Health Worker Stories from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita

Article excerpt

MORE THAN a year after hurricanes Katrina and Rita slammed into the Gulf Coast, the memories of public health professionals called into service remain as powerful as the mighty winds and merciless rains that breached protective levees in New Orleans and brought the nation's emergency response system to its knees.

A new APHA book to be released this month gives voice to more than 40 health care heroes who toiled day and night in hospitals and special-needs shelters to ease the physical and emotional suffering of hurricane victims, even as they struggled to deal with storm-related tragedies of their own. Their powerful voices form the basis of "Muddy Waters: The Legacy of Katrina and Rita: Health Care Providers Remember, and Look Ahead."

Through personal interviews conducted one year after the storm, and from reviewing diary and journal entries, author Lisa Tracy, MA, recreates the extraordinary contributions of health care workers who, in the words of one interviewee, learned "a lifetime of lessons in a single storm."

One commonality that reverberates through the many voices and diary entries is the urgent need to create an emergency response system that accommodates the nation's large and growing populations of chronically ill, frail and elderly people, said Tracy, whose credentials include 25 years as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and author of several books.

Part of the book's content is derived from diary and journal entries kept by health care workers at the request of Doris Brown, MS, RN, CNS, deputy assistant secretary and center director of the Office of Community Preparedness for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals' Office of Public Health. …

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