Sunday, June 03, 2007

"Louisiana" Abandons New Orleans

It hasn't been easy for me to work lately. So when I just now got the rare urge to work on a manuscript that's been hanging over my head since God was a boy, I opened my browser to connect to a writing-friendly music station, only to be greeted by this headline on my homepage (the entire article is also at the end of this post):

"Katrina still killing, medical experts say:

They say stress-related deaths escaping official notice; state disagrees"

The state whats? Disagrees?! Seems logical to me that if post-K stress interferes with my normal psychological functioning (i.e., ability to be productive), it's not too far fetched to believe it's still stressful enough to kill people. The fact that I can't focus on my work because I get so angry I can't concentrate is all the proof I need that the goddamn state is wrong. The human body can only handle so much vitriol and despair.

But the state ain't wrong in the sense that it simply disagrees. They know exactly what the truth is, and they know they just don't give a damn about it. I don't need anymore proof that the folks in Baton Rouge: 1) don't care what happens to us; 2) doesn't realize that they need New Orleans to survive since we're the economic engine that keeps this state afloat; or 3) are trying to get rid of us holdouts so they can get their hands in the money pot once we're dead or have moved away out of disgust.

If they really wanted to acknowledge the truth, they'd use death rates from January 2005 as the basis for comparison, not rates from January 2006 -- after the storm. There are idiots aplenty in B.R. but not stupid enough to make that sort of basic ass mistake. Comparing post-K death rates to post-K death rates? C'mon, 7th graders could find the flaws in that sort of logic.

The legislature's failure to prioritize our area's needs is yet more proof that "Louisiana" (which I put in quotes because our REAL state government would be working for US) has abandoned us. They don't want to put up any of the $3 billion, which comes from OUR rebuilding boom, to draw down more federal money for the Road Home program. Jim Donelon and Blanco ain't doing shit to ease the insurance crisis except ease the insurance companies' burdens by giving them money instead of advocating for the people they represent. The state's insurance program of last resort, in its wind-only policies offered to people who can't otherwise get wind coverage, won't cover expenses incurred to live elsewhere while your home is damaged and only covers depreciated value and not replacement cost. And do we really think it's just happenstance that the state has not lifted a pinky finger to use state money or even FEMA money to provide one fucking inpatient psychiatric bed within 50 miles of the city? I guess I'd be denying that psychological stress was still killing people down here too.

I always thought the lack of action from the state was good ole Lou-ziana incompetence, but it seems clear to me now that they know exactly what they're NOT doing.


Katrina still killing, medical experts say

They say stress-related deaths escaping official notice; state disagrees
11:34 AM CDT on Sunday, June 3, 2007
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS – The bodies are no longer being dragged from houses and buildings toppled or swamped by Hurricane Katrina, but nearly two years later, many medical experts think the storm is still killing.

Storm survivors are dying from the effects of both psychological and physical stress, with the causes including dust and mold still in dwellings, financial problems and fear of crime, health experts and officials said.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Katrina is still killing our residents," said Dr. Frank Minyard, coroner for Orleans Parish. "People with pre-existing conditions that are made worse by the stress of living here after the storm. Old people who are just giving up. People who are killing themselves because they feel they can't go on."

Some say an in-depth federal analysis is needed, despite a new state report that found no significant increase in deaths in the New Orleans area from January 2006 through June 2006. The state Department of Health and Hospitals is still compiling figures for the last six months of 2006.

Some New Orleans doctors questioned the accuracy of the population figures used to determine the death rate, saying they might have been too high. Dr. Fred Cerise, secretary for the Department of Health and Hospitals, said he is comfortable with the population data, which he said came from the Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The city was abandoned after Katrina struck Aug. 29, 2005, and many people did not begin returning until mid-2006.

The official Katrina death toll in New Orleans stands at about 1,100. State health officials said deaths haven't been listed as Katrina-related since the end of 2005, except for bodies found under storm wreckage. But Dr. Minyard said he believes that the hurricane is still behind many deaths.

Dr. Ronald Kessler, professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and head of a group that has monitored 3,000 exiled Katrina survivors, said reconstructing an individual's mental and physical state before death might help in determining exact causes of death.

"There are high rates of mental health problems among the survivors, and previous research has found that mental disorders are predictors of earlier death rates," Dr. Kessler said.

Said Dr. Minyard, "Years from now, when they talk about post-traumatic stress, New Orleans after Katrina will be the poster child."


TravelingMermaid said...

Even if we did get some FEMA money for psyche beds, you'll hear NIMBY screamed far and wide. As has already been done over the Children's - LSU - DePaul deal.

E.J. said...

True dat, TM. Did we get money from the gov't for that deal?