Health care infrastructure post-Katrina: disaster planning to return health care workers to their home communities.
One of the greatest challenges of restoring the New Orleans health care infrastructure since the post-Katrina disaster has been shortages of health care providers. Many providers had prolonged displacements or did not return to their practices, depleting the city of valuable resources. This Open Forum chronicles the displacement of Louisiana State University's Department of Psychiatry and discusses barriers to returning health care providers to their communities expeditiously. Predisaster planning and policy changes are proposed to facilitate a quicker return and decrease the attrition of health care providers after future disasters. A community's predisaster plans should include a mechanism to allow funds to follow patients instead of hospitals, to provide bridge funding that pays local health care providers to work as first responders and serve uninsured patients while these providers rebuild their practices, and to provide funds to quickly expand services and usable space in undamaged clinics and hospitals and to shore up reparable structures.
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