When you can almost instantly seek health care through an
urgent care center or even your smartphone, it’s easy to take health care
access for granted. But what if disaster made that difficult for weeks at a
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded researchers
at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate
School of Public Health a $576,000 grant to study the impact of natural
disasters upon access to primary health care.
Pitt Public Health researchers
will team with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,
Bureau of Primary Care Access and Planning, to examine the impact of Superstorm
Sandy on primary care in The Rockaways, in Queens, New York.
|Margaret Potter, J.D.|
Pitt Public Health’s Margaret
Potter, J.D., associate dean and director of the Center for
Public Health Practice, will lead the two-year project, which will examine Sandy’s
impact on the capacity of New York
health care providers who are key to primary care in that region. Primary care is offered at physicians’
offices, clinics, community health centers and other non-hospital sites. Researchers
will determine whether or not residents used primary care services at pre-storm
levels after the October 2012 storm and will recommend ways to reduce access problems
during disaster recovery – including a new software interface that tracks the
availability of needed services.
Ultimately, researchers anticipate they will be able to
develop improved tools and processes for monitoring recovery and planning for
future disasters that would potentially impact primary care access.
“We’ll be paying special attention to vulnerable
populations, such as the elderly and poor, who may experience the greatest
difficulty accessing primary health care services during disasters,” said Ms.
Potter. “We will explore the use of computational methods to identify gaps in
services during and after disasters and to support official decision-making
about allocating limited resources.”
Labels: Margaret Potter, Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health