Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Why didn't nursing home patients get first priority?

It's not clear from reading this article, but apparently NO ONE, not state, not federal, not local, was giving much thought to those most likely to become fatalities in Hurricane Katrina. Will anyone take responsibility for this? Probably not. But we should ask why the Coast Guard was tasked with the job of rescuing those on rooftops before the elderly, handicapped and infirm. Is it because those on rooftops were visible (i.e. to cameras of news networks) and the nursing home victims were not?
Both lobbies quickly learned that they — as well as their state government handler — lacked the clout to make nursing homes and hospitals a higher priority for National Guard and government rescue teams. Even when teams were dispatched to hospitals or nursing homes, they often diverted to rooftop rescues.

"The priority mission was picking people off of rooftops and out of water," said state Health Officer Jimmy Guidry, the main contact for the hospital and nursing home lobbies in the Louisiana disaster center.

Guidry said he argued for nursing home and hospital requests but "it seemed like forever to get all the transportation that was being asked for."

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