Thursday, November 1, 2012

New York Psychiatrists Respond to Hurricane Sandy

One of the worst tragedies came when more than 100 houses in the beachside communities in the Breezy Point section of the Rockaways were destroyed by fire. Elsewhere in the Rockaways, 40 to 50 group homes for chronic psychiatric patients had to be evacuated because of flooding and power outages, said Seeth Vivek, M.D., chair of psychiatry at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in New York's borough of Queens and vice president of the New York State Psychiatric Association. “They all were moved to two local colleges,” Vivek told Psychiatric News. “Most were stable, but others had to go to emergency rooms. Many had lost their medications, and many pharmacies lost power and so could not fill prescriptions.”

The Red Cross asked Disaster Psychiatry Outreach (DPO) for 100 volunteer psychiatrists to assist in the Rockaways, said Francine Cournos, M.D., a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and the New York County District Branch's disaster psychiatry liaison. "After September 11, we decided it was better for the district branch to work with DPO and the Red Cross rather than duplicate their infrastructure,” Cournos said in an interview. And like that prior tragedy, Hurricane Sandy will remind New Yorkers of how vulnerable their city is, Cournos noted.

For more information about hurricanes and mental health, see Psychiatric News here. Also see Disaster Psychiatry: Readiness, Evaluation, and Treatment from American Psychiatric Publishing.

(Image: grafvision/Andrea Levine /PA Wire URN:15000375 (Press Association via AP Images))


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