The Louisiana Recovery Authority recommended that the state Legislature authorize about $26 million over the next three years on an emergency response network as part of an illness response system.
The network would create a "time-sensitive illness response system linking homeland security initiatives with healthcare standards and trauma care requirements," according to a report that recommended funding the system. In 2004, the state Legislature established the Louisiana Emergency Response Network, but the act did not include funding.
The Louisiana Recovery Authority Support Foundation, a private, not-for-profit organization that has raised private funds for a team of planners to rebuild southern Louisiana, supports the Louisiana Recovery Authority and funded the nearly 250-page report, which was prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
"This report demonstrates very clearly the connectedness of medical education, of public hospitals, of the private sector (and) of the information technology infrastructure," said Mary Ella Sanders, chairwoman of the public health and healthcare task force for the LRA. Sanders added that the report will lead to "a more sophisticated debate in this state."
The report, which focused on the healthcare system, healthcare professionals and medical education, and emergency preparedness and disaster planning, also made other recommendations. They include: eliminating the state's two-tiered system for the insured and uninsured in favor of an integrated model; reviewing Louisiana's strategy of educating and training physicians; creating a statewide health information organization; and developing a plan to deal with the increase in mental disorders after Hurricane Katrina.
The authority's public health and healthcare task force is one of 13 in all, and will present its recommendations to the full Louisiana Recovery Authority board on May 17, Sanders said.