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Family reunification after disaster: Have we made any progress?
This week's Grand Rounds speaker is Sarita Chung, M.D.
Dr. Chung holds numerous positions: Director of Disaster Preparedness for the Division of Emergency Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine for Harvard Medical School.This week's Grand Rounds speaker is Sarita Chung, M.D.
Globally, natural and manmade disaster continues to increase in numbers and intensity with significant damage to their communities and considerable impact on families. An inevitable but unfortunate consequence from both natural and disasters is the sudden separation of family members after an event requiring reunification. The events of Hurricane Katrina/Rita highlighted the need for family reunification when over 5000 children were separated from their families with no pre-existing plan for reunification. While there have been many efforts on the national and state level as well as the private sector to create reunification systems, currently in 2018, many disciplines involved in family reunification are still at the planning stages and working in silos. This is particularly true in the medical profession where in a recent survey of US emergency departments showed that only 46.8% reported having a disaster plan that addresses children. Given that after disasters, particularly man-made, children may become injured and need medical treatments, emergency departments (and their affiliate hospitals) should have operational plans to optimize family reunification. Pediatricians can help close the gap and provide expertise in creating such plans.
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