Health System Disaster Response

Patient & Family worked with the Center for Independence of the Disabled, Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York, MFY Legal Services, the Long Term Care Community Coalition and other organizations to advocate for better health system disaster response in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.  Based on the real needs and conditions of the communities served, here are our consensus recommendations on healthcare system disaster planning (May 2013).  And we received a positive response from the New York State Department of Health. Their July 2013 letter described their planning efforts and their new data system to help track the location of patients and facility residents who are evacuated due to an emergency.  Patient & Family participated in a follow-up meeting at the Office of the Governor.  We remain vigilant on this important issue and especially supportive of people with disabilities and seniors in the effort for improved healthcare system disaster response.  Several organizations brought litigation against the City for its failure to provide disaster response systems sufficiently accessible for people with disabilities.  For information on their 2014 settlement, see the Center for Independence of the Disabled’s website at

Patient & Family notes the need for continued vigilance.  In particular, a recent study of the Sandy disaster response, published in July 2016, determined that people with diabetes were at special risk.  It found:

“Emergency visits for a primary diagnosis of diabetes had an increased frequency of certain co-morbidities, including hypertension, recent procedure, and chronic skin ulcers. Patients with a history of diabetes visited EDs in increased numbers after Hurricane Sandy for a primary diagnosis of myocardial infarction, prescription refills, drug dependence, dialysis, among other conditions.”

And it concluded that “diabetic adults aged 65 years and older are especially at risk for requiring postdisaster emergency care compared to other vulnerable populations,” and that “there is a need to support diabetic adults particularly in the week after a disaster by ensuring access to medications, aftercare for patients who had a recent procedure, and optimize their cardiovascular health to reduce the risk of heart attacks.”

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