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At Least One-Fifth Of Identified Hurricane Victims Died In Hospitals And Nursing Homes
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 19, 2005

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA--As of Monday, more than 700 people were confirmed dead from Hurricane Katrina.

According to the New York Times, at least 91 from New Orleans alone were patients who died in local hospitals. At least 63 died in nursing homes that were not evacuated until five days after the storm. Thirty-four of those were found in St. Rita's nursing home in Chalmette, Louisiana.

Some drowned. Some died because of lack of medications and life-sustaining equipment. Others perished from the heat after the hurricane left the buildings without power for air-conditioners.

A spokesperson for Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti, who filed homicide charges against the owners of St. Rita's, told the Washington Times that calls were flooding in alleging neglect causing injuries or deaths in other facilities around the area.

Hospital and nursing home officials in the area have reported that government emergency management agencies failed to let them know that they were unable to provide help following the storm. In some instances, they blamed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of abandoning efforts to evacuate these facilities -- even commandeering private helicopters, trucks and buses that had arranged to rescue the patients -- in favor of evacuating the Superdome and rescuing people from roof tops.

A FEMA spokesperson denied that the agency confiscated any equipment.

Many survivors with disabilities have been spread throughout the southern states, staying in temporary accommodations while they try to sort out their lives. This is being hampered by arguments over who is eligible for Medicaid and how much they are to receive, since such guidelines vary from state to state.

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, House Republicans were considering delaying some federal spending, including funding a scheduled Medicare prescription drug benefit, in order to pay for Gulf Coast reconstruction.

Links to related articles on today's Below The Fold page:
"People With Disabilities Among Hardest Hit By Hurricane Katrina" (Inclusion Daily Express)

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