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29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

After Hurricane Katrina old rules kept nurses away: Column.

City and congressional leaders laid wreaths at a memorial holding the unclaimed and unidentified bodies from Hurricane Katrina, kicking off a day of events to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the storm hitting Louisiana and Mississippi. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu praised the city’s progress and a group of musicians played a mournful funeral song as dignitaries slowly walked the flowers to the monuments holding dozens of bodies.

—Scattered applause greeted Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich in a newly constructed stadium as he threw the ceremonial first pitch for the city’s minor-league baseball team, the Shuckers. The $36 million MGM Park, which opened in June near the waterfront and several casinos, is the boldest attempt by city officials to show that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is revitalizing after a series of misfortunes. Since Hurricane Katrina hit a decade ago, Biloxi’s population has dropped 9.4% to 44,984 and many houses remain vacant. “People all around the country who moved away, they’re looking for an excuse to come back, to move back home,” Mr. At the conclusion of the event the band switched to a rousing rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching in” as some people in the audience swayed to the music. Residents across Mississippi and Louisiana are paying homage Saturday to those who died in the storm and to celebrate how far the region has come since the hurricane struck.

John and Trombone Shorty were the headline acts for “A Concert for the Coast.” Economic recovery is evident where glitzy casinos were rebuilt and condominium towers rose. And beyond the ballpark, the area still shows signs of scars after a 28-foot wall of water hurled casino boats into neighborhoods and swept away buildings on Aug. 29, 2005.

In addition, residential and commercial development has become costlier due to higher insurance rates and new federal building codes intended to better protect structures along the coastline, economists and officials say. Dialysis is different from many other medical treatments; people with kidney failure need to receive it every several days or they immediately become very sick and can even die. Nearly 20% of Biloxi housing units were vacant in 2010, up from 11.4% in 2000, according to census data. “My daughter thinks it’s common to drive down Highway 90 and see slabs,” said Joy Yates, 47 years old, who has worked as an assistant for Biloxi’s county coroner for 18 years and helped collect bodies in the days after Katrina.

Of her 12-year-old daughter, she says, “She’ll never know the Gulf Coast I knew.” Before Katrina, Biloxi appeared on the cusp of becoming a major gambling hub, a smaller version of Las Vegas or Atlantic City, N.J., with nine casinos and other tourist attractions including beaches, recreational fishing and golfing. Many have a story like Kathy Spencer, a nurse from Gulfport, who stayed in the area while her family left for Houston and slept in a social worker’s office in the clinic so that she could be there to help.

Ultimately, Louisiana and other states suspended their licensing requirements and allowed us to bring in about 100 additional nurses, but that process still took several days and delayed our efforts to help patients. During Hurricane Sandy, another disaster of devastating scope, New Jersey took even more time — several weeks — to allow enough outside nurses into the state.

The total civilian labor force along the state’s Gulf Coast, from Gulfport to Pascagoula, is down 4.9% from its level in August 2005, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Major employers include tourism-related companies, military bases such as Keesler Air Force Base, which has faced recent cutbacks, and the seafood industry, challenged by the 2010 oil spill and competition from imports. For example, the renal industry formed the Kidney Community Emergency Response Coalition, a team that links together government agencies and dialysis providers during a disaster to provide better care.

Our company has also improved its capabilities to get in touch with patients before and during an emergency, developed a preparedness manual to establish best practices, and reorganized our disaster response team to be more locally-focused and nimble. In the fiscal year ended September 2013, tax on gambling revenue represented nearly 36% of general fund revenue, the largest individual contributor, according to a city budget document. Biloxi saw a big drop in casino revenue the year after Katrina, then a surge the following year, helped by the influx of relief and construction workers. Of the medical professions, nurses have gone the farthest to create a rational, interconnected system of state reciprocity, and 25 states have passed NLC legislation.

Can we just go somewhere and let this place rebuild somehow, someway?” But the 42 year-old, who owns Smash Clothing in Biloxi’s Edgewater Mall, decided to stay, “to have stability for my family and myself.” Adrienne C. While legislation is pending in the New York and New Jersey legislatures to join the NLC, the bills has not yet been passed and therefore licensed nurses from other states are still not allowed to practice there. We are working to support legislation in various states to bring them into the NLC and provide them access to more health care professionals more easily.

It’s a common sense way to allow medical professionals to get where they need to be, when they need to be there, especially in the worst of circumstances. Let’s eliminate the roadblocks to getting nurses where they’re needed, and when we look back in another 10 years, we’ll know we’re better prepared for the next Katrina.

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