National attention in this country is again focused on the Gulf coast as Hurricane Rita makes its way slowly across the Gulf of Mexico. Hospitals and nursing homes in low-lying areas of Texas are preparing to obey evacuation orders and move to higher ground. Faced with the possibility of a repeat of the tragedy experienced in New Orleans--where a number of patients died in intolerable conditions at hospitals and nursing homes after Katrina struck--many appear to be taking the threat much more seriously this time around.
In Brazoria county, which lies to the south of Houston, officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of exposed health care facilities, as the National Weather Service upgraded the storm to Category 4. In the island city of Galveston, which was virtually wiped out by a major storm in 1900, authorities ordered the evacuation of nursing homes and long-term-care facilities beginning at 6 AM.
- see this story from the Brazoria News
PLUS: Tenet Hospitals warns that damage to its hospitals from Katrina may seriously impact its financial outlook. Story
PLUS: Following the example of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, the Houston Chronicle launched a blog to monitor the crisis which will provide breaking news coverage. Story