Challenges and opportunities of nursing care in special-needs shelters.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita forced many individuals along the coast of Texas and Louisiana to seek shelter inland. Among the evacuees were residents with special needs and residents of nursing homes and group homes caring for mentally retarded and physically disabled persons. Many nurses volunteered to provide health care for those in need. This article discusses challenges and opportunities that were encountered by nurses volunteering in special-needs shelters. Issues related to human and physical resources, patient care, and confidentiality are discussed including lessons learned. As nurses who cared for evacuees in the shelter, it is hoped some of the lessons learned can be utilized in future disasters.