This study evaluated the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps' (the Corps) response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and identified whether and how the Corps could improve its response to public health emergencies. The Corps, one of seven U.S. uniformed services, is made up entirely of officers commissioned on the basis of their health related training. Agencies within and outside the Department of Health and Human Services employ Corps officers to provide health care and related services in health professional shortage areas. In August and September 2005, respectively, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast. In response to health care and public health needs in the affected areas, the Corps carried out the largest deployment in its 207-year history. More than 2,100 officers worked with State, local, and private agencies in response to the hurricanes.
For this evaluation researchers: (1) surveyed a stratified random sample of 350 Corps officers; (2) analyzed Corps administrative databases; (3) interviewed and collected documentation from Corps field commanders, Corps management components, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; (4) interviewed State health officials; and (5) interviewed agencies that employ Corps officers.
The Commissioned Corps officers deployed in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita provided valuable services, but the Corps could improve its response to public health emergencies. Researchers recommended that the Corps: be better trained, that there be a system to quickly contact officers for deployment, that deployment-related travel be streamlined, that deployments be staggered to assure continuity, and that that all deployable officers have Federal Government travel credit cards.
Report Title: The Commissioned Corps' Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-09-06-00030.pdf
Agency Sponsor: OS-OIG, Office of Inspector General
Federal Contact: Claire Barnard, 202-205-9523
Performer: Office of Inspector General
PIC ID: 8773