New Orleans psychiatrist Dr. Howard Osofsky was in New York attending a seminar on emergency preparedness when Hurricane Katrina hit 10 years ago. When he heard about the devastation, he headed home to share his new knowledge to a population in dire need of emergency health services.
Osofsky provided mental health services to first responders, as well as displaced and returning children to New Orleans, working to help piece together the city's mental health infrastructure.
Since that time, local health officials have rebuilt a healthcare network in the city that some say is stronger than ever.
Years before Dr. Karen DeSalvo became the national coordinator for health information technology, she was vice dean for community affairs and health policy at the Tulane University School of Medicine. Following Hurricane Katrina, she was a community leader in building a primary-care network of patient-centered medical homes. And, earlier this month, University Medical Center, the new $1.1 billion replacement for the city's safety net Charity Hospital, opened with 446 beds.
But many say the city's mental health system hasn't experienced the same rebound as its medical care system.
Dr. Michael Scheeringa, a psychiatrist and vice chair of research in the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department at Tulane's School of Medicine, wonders if that's because the city has never really had sufficient mental health services.