An Impending Health Care Disaster?

So far, the news has focused on the evacuation of existing New Orleans hospital patients to other localities. But if the estimates made earlier today of thousands dead are true, the next crisis could very well be outbreak of infectious diseases. Lack of clean drinking water, chemical and human waste, population sequestration, and the network effects of disease transmission all contribute to a potentially deadly outbreak among the currently healthy victims of Katrina.

"We're ready for patients and we can't get them. We just can't get them out," he said.

The government said dozens of medical disaster teams from nearby states were moving into hard-hit areas.

"We've identified 2,600 beds in hospitals in the 12-state area. In addition to that, we've identified 40,000 beds nationwide, should they be needed," said Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt.

Speedy evacuation of both patients and trapped resident along with clean drinking water would go a long way toward preventing a health care crisis. The mayor of New Orleans has said that about 15,000 people a day could be evacuated from New Orleans. The next couple of days are critical.

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