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Hurricane Maria caused catastrophic damage in Puerto Rico, increasing the risk for morbidity and mortality in the post-impact period. We aimed to establish a syndromic surveillance system to describe the number and type of visits at 2 emergency health-care settings in the same hospital system in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
We implemented a hurricane surveillance system by interviewing patients with a short questionnaire about the reason for visit at a hospital emergency department and associated urgent care clinic in the 6 mo after Hurricane Maria. We then evaluated the system by comparing findings with data from the electronic medical record (EMR) system for the same time period.
The hurricane surveillance system captured information from 5116 participants across the 2 sites, representing 17% of all visits captured in the EMR for the same period. Most visits were associated with acute illness/symptoms (79%), followed by injury (11%). The hurricane surveillance and EMR data were similar, proportionally, by sex, age, and visit category.
The hurricane surveillance system provided timely and representative data about the number and type of visits at 2 sites. This system, or an adapted version using available electronic data, should be considered in future disaster settings.
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