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In September 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico’s health care infrastructure. To meet the demands of ongoing primary care and medical emergencies, Federal Medical Shelters (FMS) were set up to serve local communities for the weeks after the hurricane. A team of health professionals from New York assisted federal authorities in the provision of healthcare in the FMS.
To describe the population of patients requesting medical care in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria at FMS Manati and to categorize the range of problems faced by patients after the hurricane, and examine how this changed longitudinally over the course of the operation.
Researchers collected basic data of patients at presentation to the FMS. Descriptive analyses were performed of the patient population and nature of presenting illnesses. Chi-squared analysis was performed to compare the change over time of presenting complaints. Ethics approval was granted by Columbia University.
Data was collected for a two-week period approximately three weeks after the hurricane made landfall. The FMS saw 2,154 patients over a 14-day period. The population of patients (median age = 43 years [IQR 39 years]) assessed was bimodal in distribution, with one peak in children at 1 year. A second peak occurred at age 53 years. 60.2% of presenting complaints were infection- or chronic disease-related. Musculoskeletal complaints were the third most common. Chi-squared tests revealed no statistically significant change in the frequency of specific types of complaints between the start and end of data collection.
In the weeks after Hurricane Maria, infants and elderly were seen to predominantly seek medical care. Likely related to the collapse of the healthcare infrastructure, there was a high prevalence of infection-related and chronic medical conditions. The data support the need to focus resources to treat vulnerable populations, infectious issues, and chronic medical conditions.
The objective of this study was to explore a log of WhatsApp messages exchanged among members of the health care group Doctors For You (DFY) while they were providing medical relief in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake in April 2015. Our motivation was to identify medical resource requirements during a disaster in order to help government agencies and other responding organizations to be better prepared in any upcoming disaster.
A large set of WhatsApp (WhatsApp Inc, Mountain View, CA) messages exchanged among DFY members during the Nepal earthquake was collected and analyzed to identify the medical resource requirements during different phases of relief operations.
The study revealed detailed phase-wise requirements for various types of medical resources, including medicines, medical equipment, and medical personnel. The data also reflected some of the problems faced by the medical relief workers in the earthquake-affected region.
The insights from this study may help not only the Nepalese government, but also authorities in other earthquake-prone regions of the world to better prepare for similar disasters in the future. Moreover, real-time analysis of such online data during a disaster would aid decision-makers in dynamically formulating resource-mapping strategies. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2017;11:652–655).