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Older adults are a potentially medically vulnerable population with increased mortality rates during and after disasters. To evaluate the impact of a natural disaster on this population, we performed a temporal and geospatial analysis of emergency department (ED) use by adults aged 65 years and older in New York City (NYC) following Hurricane Sandy’s landfall.
We used an all-payer claims database to analyze demographics, insurance status, geographic distribution, and health conditions for post-disaster ED visits among older adults. We compared ED patterns of use in the weeks before and after Hurricane Sandy throughout NYC and the most afflicted evacuation zones.
We found significant increases in ED utilization by older adults (and disproportionately higher in those aged ≥85 years) in the 3 weeks after Hurricane Sandy, especially in NYC evacuation zone one. Primary diagnoses with notable increases included dialysis, electrolyte disorders, and prescription refills. Secondary diagnoses highlighted homelessness and care access issues.
Older adults display heightened risk for worse health outcomes with increased ED visits after a disaster. Our findings suggest the need for dedicated resources and planning for older adults following a natural disaster by ensuring access to medical facilities, prescriptions, dialysis, and safe housing and by optimizing health care delivery needs to reduce the burden of chronic disease. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:184–193)
To assess the impact of an emergency intensive care unit (EICU) established concomitantly with a freestanding emergency department (ED) during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
We retrospectively reviewed records of all patients in Bellevue’s EICU from freestanding ED opening (December 10, 2012) until hospital inpatient reopening (February 7, 2013). Temporal and clinical data, and disposition upon EICU arrival, and ultimate disposition were evaluated.
Two hundred twenty-seven patients utilized the EICU, representing approximately 1.8% of freestanding ED patients. Ambulance arrival occurred in 31.6% of all EICU patients. Median length of stay was 11.55 hours; this was significantly longer for patients requiring airborne isolation (25.60 versus 11.37 hours, P<0.0001 by Wilcoxon rank sum test). After stabilization and treatment, 39% of EICU patients had an improvement in their disposition status (P<0.0001 by Wilcoxon signed rank test); upon interhospital transfer, the absolute proportion of patients requiring ICU and SDU resources decreased from 37.8% to 27.1% and from 22.2% to 2.7%, respectively.
An EICU attached to a freestanding ED achieved significant reductions in resource-intensive medical care. Flexible, adaptable care systems should be explored for implementation in disaster response. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:496–502)
We aimed to evaluate emergency medical services (EMS) data as disaster metrics and to assess stress in surrounding hospitals and a municipal network after the closure of Bellevue Hospital during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
We retrospectively reviewed EMS activity and call types within New York City’s 911 computer-assisted dispatch database from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2013. We evaluated EMS ambulance transports to individual hospitals during Bellevue’s closure and incremental recovery from urgent care capacity, to freestanding emergency department (ED) capability, freestanding ED with 911-receiving designation, and return of inpatient services.
A total of 2,877,087 patient transports were available for analysis; a total of 707,593 involved Manhattan hospitals. The 911 ambulance transports disproportionately increased at the 3 closest hospitals by 63.6%, 60.7%, and 37.2%. When Bellevue closed, transports to specific hospitals increased by 45% or more for the following call types: blunt traumatic injury, drugs and alcohol, cardiac conditions, difficulty breathing, “pedestrian struck,” unconsciousness, altered mental status, and emotionally disturbed persons.
EMS data identified hospitals with disproportionately increased patient loads after Hurricane Sandy. Loss of Bellevue, a public, safety net medical center, produced statistically significant increases in specific types of medical and trauma transports at surrounding hospitals. Focused redeployment of human, economic, and social capital across hospital systems may be required to expedite regional health care systems recovery. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:333–343)
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