According to Osofsky, a separate tool for children and adolescents will screen for post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms. This survey is a modified version of a survey tool developed by the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and National Child Traumatic Stress Network for use in evaluating post-Katrina mental health. More than 23,000 children have been screened over the past 5 years. Either the children themselves or their parents complete the survey, depending on the child’s age. Osofsky said that a high percentage of children and parents ask for counseling (for the children) after completing the surveys.
In his conclusion, Osofsky emphasized the importance of assessing the effectiveness of current interventions and using mental health assessment data to develop “strength-based” interventions, meaning interventions that help people use their individual strengths so that they can feel in control.
Daniel R. Masys, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Daniel Masys addressed biomedical informatics, the application of the principles of computer and information science to problems in medical research and health care education. He explored lessons learned from past disasters and possible applications to enhance surveillance activities related to the oil spill disaster.
Masys spoke of the many lessons learned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Many health records were lost following the hurricane. However, the one “bright spot” in biomedical informatics was that the VA’s computerized patient-record system, which housed approximately 60,000 electronic records of New Orleans veterans, was transferred to Houston where it was reconstituted and running within 3 days. Within a week the records received 10,000 hits through a VA web interface and were used to track veterans and provide continuity of care to evacuees that were dispersed across more than 200 health care sites in 48 states.
Masys identified three key lessons learned from the Katrina experience. First, EHRs are the sine qua non of effective care delivery and health effects monitoring for regional- and national-scale health events involving a mobile population and uncertainty about where individuals are going to be at some time in the future. The dispersal of veterans