Slate: Are Dead Bodies Really Dangerous?
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin told the press yesterday that ‘we know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water’ and warned that thousands in the city may have died during Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding. Do these dead bodies pose a threat to the survivors? In August 1999, David Plotz explained that decomposing corpses are “only a danger to public health if the victim dies of an infectious disease,” and that the threat posed by the bodies of victims of trauma””typically the major cause of death in natural disasters””is ‘negligible.’”
A pathologist is setting up a temporary hospital at the New Orleans Ritz-Carlton
“This e-mail just came in from Gregory Henderson, a physician. As nearly as we can tell, Dr. Henderson is an academician, a pathologist who specializes in in cancers of the female reproductive tract and who is affiliated with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Department of Pathology at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Coastal Area Health Education Center, Wilmington, NC. We gather from those facts, and from his e-mail below, that Dr. Henderson found himself in New Orleans with his family, perhaps attending a medical conference. When Katrina got close, he sent his family away to safety and remained behind and wound up in the New Orleans Ritz-Carlton Hotel, helping set up a makeshift hospital. Thus an academic pathologist, a man who mostly studies slides and tissue specimens and rarely sees patients personally, has put himself forward to render heroic service in the middle of the greatest natural disaster in the history of the United States. Sounds like a movie script, doesn’t it? But it’s apparently true.” (via Instapundit)
NY Times: Rotting Food, Dirty Water and Heat Add to Problems
“Rotting away in plastic packages strewn all over the west side of Gulfport, bearing who knows what diseases, the chicken – 40 tons of it – is one of the more unusual public health concerns facing the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
There are also the lack of running water, the scarcity of toilets, the rats, the rashes, the rotting cadavers, the sewage backflow, dehydration, tetanus, mental trauma and searing summer heat. And the shrimp.
As residents here struggle with the immensity of the destruction, the entire hurricane-ravaged region has been declared a federal health emergency. The chicken and a million pounds of frozen uncooked shrimp had been awaiting distribution on the waterfront when the storm hit. Now they are adding to official worry over what might be found in the water supply when testing begins.”
GruntDoc: New Orleans Patients arrive in Fort Worth
“I worked an afternoon shift in my ED today, and the buzz was all about the New Orleans transfers we’d received, and continued to receive.
Our joint got about 12 that I’m aware of, with a very high percentage being dialysis patients and in need of that service. It was entirely appropriate that they were sent to us, as we’re one of a few hospitals in the area with inpatient dialysis services available. Our nephrologists didn’t bat an eye, and worked hard to get them taken care of.”
retired doc’s thoughts: The doctors and nurses of New Orleans Charity Hospital
“Fox News interviewed a nurse at New Orleans Charity Hospital last night. She and her fellow nurses and the physicians had been fighting against everything for the last few days, disease, injury, diminishing supplies and food and water living and working in a island without outside help.
She said they kept it all going because that is what doctors and nurses do and what they accomplished was done without help from the city, state, FEMA or anyone else. That dedication and focus on patient care is what doctors and nurses are all about.”
CNN: New Orleans airport housing medical patients
“There are about 25 helicopters ferrying people back and forth between the New Orleans airport and the city of New Orleans. The airport is becoming a military airfield.
Equipment normally used to move luggage around is being used to move people instead. Inside the terminal of the airport, the FEMA medical teams are overwhelmed with the number of people here.
We have seen many critical patients who have been pulled from area hospitals and brought here. We saw one body taken off a plane on the back of one of these luggage racks.
It is a tense scene inside. I came across a maternity ward of women holding their newborn babies. Every woman was holding a newborn baby except for one woman who had only a picture of her child.
She said her baby had been taken to the intensive care unit. As she was readying to board an aircraft for Ft. Worth, Texas, she told me she didn’t know where to find her baby.
The plan is to move a lot of these people out of the airport on fixed-wing aircraft presumably either to Houston or Ft. Worth or other parts of Louisiana as well.
I’ve also been told by one FEMA official who said they’re doing a nationwide bed count of hospitals, perhaps looking for any kind of place that might be able to handle all of these people.” (via Medpundit)