Hurricane emergency planning by home health providers serving the poor.

Five agencies providing home health care to indigent populations in New Orleans, Louisiana were evaluated in terms of emergency planning and implementation. This was to help improve response to community disasters for indigent populations. Preparation for Hurricane Katrina was examined looking at interaction with local and state departments of health. It was found that the state dept of health provided leadership in making the emergency plans, but not in implementation. Local departments of health appeared to have very little responsibility in emergency planning. Although every agency had a plan, when it came to implementation there was lack of coordination and breakdown in communication at all government levels. Recommendations for future policy include: 1) early evacuation of special needs patients; 2) improved training of staff to include practice drills; 3) improve communication systems; and, 4) increased funding of state and local departments of health to provide training.