October 10, 2005
Despite significant flood damage to the Tulane University Health Sciences Center, courageous clinical care has been performed by Tulane physicians since Hurricane Katrina struck the Crescent City.
"Thanks to the creativity of our physicians-in-training, we have provided free medical care for the people of New Orleans for the past four weeks, in the absence of any formal health care infrastructure," says Karen DeSalvo, associate professor and chief of general internal medicine and geriatrics. "We have done this under awnings, in police precincts, in tents, in parking lots, and now with new collaborations with non-profit partners in the community."
Tulane University physicians are providing care for approximately 400 patients per day across the four sites that are operating. Current locations include Harrah's Casino, Covenant House in the French Quarter, Ida Hymel Health Center in Algiers, and the Uptown Square parking lot.
"By my calculation, Tulane is the largest ambulatory care provider in Orleans Parish right now. It is our plan to convert these clinic sites into long-term clinical facilities to allow us to continue to serve the people of New Orleans," DeSalvo says. "In the beginning, we were seeing mostly first- and second-responders," she adds. "In the past week, we have begun seeing mostly residents of the city. Now, we're transitioning from seeing urgent care type of visits, to more traditional chronic care such as diabetes and hypertension. The majority of these patients are uninsured or under-insured people."
Central to the Tulane primary care effort are a dozen medicine and pediatrics residents, mentored by a dozen faculty physicians, whose tireless efforts kept the clinical care sites open. New Orleanians seeking medical care may go to one of the sites, open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.
Partnerships forged in the aftermath of the storm make the four sites possible. These partners include the Orleans Parish Health Department, providing nurses; AmeriCares, providing a mobile unit and other resources; Community Health Clinics, providing a mobile unit, a doctor and a nurse; and numerous volunteer physicians and nurses including those from the California Nursing Association.
"As 'doctors without clinics,' we rely on the mobile clinics," DeSalvo says. "We're desperate for other mobile clinics to borrow or lease." In addition, the care providers need medical supplies, medications, glucometers and other equipment, and especially tetanus vaccines.
"As long as we have supplies, we will continue to provide this service, at least until Oct. 25 when the Governor's emergency declaration ends."
In the days since Hurricane Katrina, the leadership from Tulane University Health Sciences Center has been working with partners from Tulane University Hospital & Clinic and the HCA Delta Division on a comprehensive plan to resume providing health care services to patients under the Tulane banner.
The plan distributes a majority of Tulane faculty physicians at multiple locations in Louisiana and at the School of Medicine teaching program in Houston.
Tulane-Lakeside Hospital, a 119-bed facility that suffered no flooding or structural damage during Hurricane Katrina, recently reopened its doors. Located at 4700 I-10 Service Road in Metairie, Tulane-Lakeside Hospital offers many services that were provided at the Tulane University Hospital & Clinic downtown campus.
Other hospital services are at Lakeview Hospital in Covington, the Southwest Medical Center and the Women's and Children's Hospital in Lafayette.
"We have strengthened and enhanced our traditional relationships and presence at Huey P. Long Medical Center, and the Alexandria VA hospital," says Alan Miller, associate senior vice president for health sciences. Tulane University Hospital & Clinic patients who would like information about physicians and services at multi-specialty clinics may call 1-800-588-5800.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org