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Supporting our Texas Neighbors, Colleagues, and Older Persons

By Executive Director and CEO James Appleby, BSPharm, MPH
August 29, 2017

The horrifying images of the continuing destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey are a reminder of the power of nature and the importance of planning for natural disasters. Millions of people are being impacted, including GSA members in the region. Our thoughts are with all affected. GSA has placed a link for the American Red Cross at the top of our homepage to make it easy for you to provide support if you wish.

While the images of extreme flooding in Houston are extraordinary, the Texas Medical Center (TMC) — the largest medical complex in the world — has continued to provide services thanks to keen disaster planning. TMC is located in the center of Houston. Its leadership has learned from experiences with multiple tropical storms and hurricanes over the past 16 years, all of which deluged Houston with floodwater and cut off patients from medical care. They installed so-called submarine doors to protect their basement floors (where essential equipment is housed) from incoming water. On Sunday, several TMC hospitals closed theirs, which helped to keep the facilities dry and functioning.

This same kind of disaster planning mindset can be applied by organizations that provide services focused on older adults. The effect of aging, vulnerability, and resilience on responses to disasters is both multidimensional and complex.

Thanks to the work of GSA’s Interest Group on Disasters & Older Adults, two webinars are available to help organizations do disaster planning and to support the recovery of older adults after a disaster. The latter webinar provides practical information from the perspective of diverse practice settings (e.g., community-based programs, long-term care services) on how best to support the recovery of older adults after a disaster. It describes best practices and organizational planning considerations related to the unique needs of this population and uses case scenarios is used to illustrate the importance of emergency responders, organizational response, and initiating relationships and partnerships in advance of an emergency or disaster.

Both webinars are presented by GSA Fellow Lisa M. Brown, a professor and director of the Trauma Program at Palo Alto University in California. Dr. Brown’s clinical and research focus is on trauma and resilience, aging, health, vulnerable populations, disasters, and long-term care.

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