Health and Family Services Cabinet
Kentucky Public Health Workers Deployed to Aid Hurricane Katrina Recovery Efforts

Press Release Date:  Friday, September 16, 2005  
Contact Information:  Vikki Franklin or Gwenda Bond (502)564-6786  


Kentucky Public Health Workers Deployed to Aid Hurricane Katrina Recovery Efforts,
Environmental specialists will address critical food and water issues
 
Frankfort, KY (Sept. 16, 2005) The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) has sent a team of public health environmental specialists to Mississippi to assist with Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery efforts.


The environmental specialists will work with the Mississippi Department of Health to address critical public health issues including: food safety, food salvage and disposal, food and water-related illness, clean water sources, water sampling, solid waste and waste water system analysis and mosquito control.


The team consists of nine environmental health specialists from several agencies within Kentucky including DPH, local health departments and the Environmental Public Protection Cabinet’s Division of Water. The team is expected to spend approximately 10 to14 days in the hurricane-affected area and will be replaced by an additional team from Kentucky. Based out of Gulfport, Miss., the specialists will provide assistance to the six southernmost counties in the state, including Pearl River, Stone, George, Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties. An additional seven Kentucky environmental specialists will be deployed over the weekend to assist with these efforts.


“This group of environmental specialists will be helping to rebuild the infrastructure of the areas affected by the hurricane,” said William Hacker, M.D., public health commissioner. “Clean water, safe food and proper waste disposal are the critical infrastructure components needed to be in place before regrowth can occur.”


In addition to providing environmental aid to support the hurricane relief efforts, DPH continues to seek licensed medical personnel for Hurricane Katrina volunteer disaster recovery efforts. Medical specialties needed include doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and environmental health workers.


“The need for volunteer licensed medical personnel to assist with hurricane recovery will continue for some time to come,” said Hacker. “I urge those interested to contact us now, but to plan for potential deployments as new volunteers are needed over the next several weeks and months. Those already registered are encouraged to be patient and will be contacted as soon as their specialty need arises.” Volunteers can register by logging on at http://www.katrinarelief.chfs.ky.gov . More than 1,000 medical personnel in Kentucky have signed up.


CHFS agencies continue to work collaboratively to connect displaced people with medical, social and basic needs services, including: food stamps; the Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (KTAP); Medicaid; Mental Health/Mental Retardation (MHMR) services; DPH services, including clinical services and the HIV/AIDS program; the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program; the Kentucky Physician Care (KPC) program; and immunizations. These services are available through the KHELPS (Kentucky Helps) system, which was designed to establish a central database for collecting and coordinating necessary services for evacuees. The Cabinet can also use the database to collect information about any friends or family for whom those evacuees in Kentucky may be looking. The information gathered will be provided to the appropriate agencies, such as the American Red Cross.

The Cabinet asks all those displaced by Hurricane Katrina – including those who came here on their own to stay with family and friends—to register their personal information to ensure they receive necessary services.  Approximately 680 evacuees have already registered. Information can be provided in several different ways:
 
• Calling the DPH Department Operations Center (DOC) at 888-398-0013 during normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.);
• Contacting the local health department or Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) office where they are currently located;
• Logging on at http://www.katrinarelief.chfs.ky.gov and entering the data directly into the system;
• Printing the form located on the Web site above and faxing the completed form to (502) 696-5852 or (502) 564-4387; or
• Filling out the form located on the Web site and e-mailing as an attachment to chfsdphdoc@ky.gov.
 
For more information, visit http://chfs.ky.gov/katrina.htm .
 
 
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