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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.
In resource-constrained environments, appropriately employing triage in disaster situations is crucial. Although both case-based learning (CBL) and simulation exercises (SEs) commonly are utilized in teaching disaster preparedness to adult learners, there is no substantial evidence supporting one as a more efficacious methodology. This randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluated the effectiveness of CBL versus SEs in addition to standard didactic instruction in knowledge attainment pertaining to disaster triage preparedness.
This RCT was performed during a one-day disaster preparedness course in Lucknow, India during October 2014. Following provision of informed consent, nursing trainees were randomized to knowledge assessment after didactic teaching (control group); didactic plus CBL (Intervention Group 1); or didactic plus SE (Intervention Group 2). The educational curriculum used the topical focus of triage processes during disaster situations. Cases for the educational intervention sessions were scripted, identical between modalities, and employed structured debriefing. Trained live actors were used for SEs. After primary assessment, the groups underwent crossover to take part in the alternative educational modality and were re-assessed. Two standardized multiple-choice question batteries, encompassing key core content, were used for assessments. A sample size of 48 participants was calculated to detect a ≥20% change in mean knowledge score (α=0.05; power=80%). Robustness of randomization was evaluated using X2, anova, and t-tests. Mean knowledge attainment scores were compared using one- and two-sample t-tests for intergroup and intragroup analyses, respectively.
Among 60 enrolled participants, 88.3% completed follow-up. No significant differences in participant characteristics existed between randomization arms. Mean baseline knowledge score in the control group was 43.8% (standard deviation=11.0%). Case-based learning training resulted in a significant increase in relative knowledge scores at 20.8% (P=0.003) and 10.3% (P=.033) in intergroup and intragroup analyses, respectively. As compared to control, SEs did not significantly alter knowledge attainment scores with an average score increase of 6.6% (P=.396). In crossover intra-arm analysis, SEs were found to result in a 26.0% decrement in mean assessment score (P < .001).
Among nursing trainees assessed in this RCT, the CBL modality was superior to SEs in short-term disaster preparedness educational translation. Simulation exercises resulted in no detectable improvement in knowledge attainment in this population, suggesting that CBL may be utilized preferentially for adult learners in similar disaster training settings.
AluisioAR, DanielP, GrockA, FreedmanJ, SinghA, PapanagnouD, ArquillaB. Case-based Learning Outperformed Simulation Exercises in Disaster Preparedness Education Among Nursing Trainees in India: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(5):516–523.
The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a national network of community-based volunteer groups created in 2002 by the Office of the United States Surgeon General (Rockville, Maryland USA) to augment the nation’s ability to respond to medical and public health emergencies. However, there is little evidence-based literature available to guide hospitals on the optimal use of medical volunteers and hesitancy on the part of hospitals to use them.
This study sought to determine how MRC volunteers can be used in hospital-based disasters through their participation in a full-scale exercise.
A full-scale exercise was designed as a “Disaster Olympics,” in which the Emergency Medicine residents were divided into teams tasked with completing one of the following five challenges: victim decontamination, mass casualty/decontamination tent assembly, patient triage and registration during a disaster, point of distribution (POD) site set-up and operation, and infection control management. A surge of patients potentially exposed to avian influenza was the scenario created for the latter three challenges. Some MRC volunteers were assigned clinical roles. These roles included serving as members of the suit support team for victim decontamination, distributing medications at the POD, and managing infection control. Other MRC volunteers functioned as “victim evaluators,” who portrayed the potential avian influenza victims while simultaneously evaluating various aspects of the disaster response. The MRC volunteers provided feedback on their experience and evaluators provided feedback on the performance of the MRC volunteers using evaluation tools.
Twenty-eight (90%) MRC volunteers reported that they worked well with the residents and hospital staff, felt the exercise was useful, and were assigned clearly defined roles. However, only 21 (67%) reported that their qualifications were assessed prior to role assignment. For those MRC members who functioned as “victim evaluators,” nine identified errors in aspects of the care they received and the disaster response. Of those who evaluated the MRC, nine (90%) felt that the MRC worked well with the residents and hospital staff. Ten (100%) of these evaluators recommended that MRC volunteers participate in future disaster exercises.
Through use of a full-scale exercise, this study was able to identify roles for MRC volunteers in a hospital-based disaster. This study also found MRC volunteers to be uniquely qualified to serve as “victim evaluators” in a hospital-based disaster exercise.
GistR, DanielP, GrockA, LinC, BryantC, KohlhoffS, RoblinP, ArquillaB. Use of Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers in a Hospital-based Disaster Exercise. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(3):259–262.
To examine the use of vitamin D supplements during infancy among the participants in an international infant feeding trial.
Information about vitamin D supplementation was collected through a validated FFQ at the age of 2 weeks and monthly between the ages of 1 month and 6 months.
Infants (n 2159) with a biological family member affected by type 1 diabetes and with increased human leucocyte antigen-conferred susceptibility to type 1 diabetes from twelve European countries, the USA, Canada and Australia.
Daily use of vitamin D supplements was common during the first 6 months of life in Northern and Central Europe (>80 % of the infants), with somewhat lower rates observed in Southern Europe (>60 %). In Canada, vitamin D supplementation was more common among exclusively breast-fed than other infants (e.g. 71 % v. 44 % at 6 months of age). Less than 2 % of infants in the USA and Australia received any vitamin D supplementation. Higher gestational age, older maternal age and longer maternal education were study-wide associated with greater use of vitamin D supplements.
Most of the infants received vitamin D supplements during the first 6 months of life in the European countries, whereas in Canada only half and in the USA and Australia very few were given supplementation.