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I am 87 years old, with a problem of the prostate gland. Before I met Dr. Baum, I went to the bathroom every 30-60 minutes. After Dr. Baum's treatment on my prostate, I go only 5 times per day and only 1 time at night! You turned my life around. I am so very grateful!

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What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do

Jean Vaughn has a problem with her bladder. Several months ago she had an electronic stimulator inserted into her back to help her with bladder control. On August 29, 2005, she evacuates the city to avoid Hurricane Katrina and returns to contact her physician to adjust her stimulator. Her physician cannot be located and the vendor from the company that manufactures the device is nowhere to be found. What is she to do when she doesn't know what to do?

Katrina has come and gone and decimated the city with debris, devastation, and horrendous odors. Our citizens have been scattered throughout every state in the nation and the medical community has also been shattered. The medical schools are closed, hospitals are closed or functioning at a reduced capacity, allied health professionals are gone, and doctors have lost their practices. Patients cannot locate their physicians, physicians cannot get access to hospital records or their records were destroyed in the hurricane, and doctors cannot put their patients into hospitals. What is one to do when you don't know what to do?

These are just some of the health issues that are facing the citizens of this community. Many cannot find their physicians, cannot access their medical records, and cannot get admitted to hospitals for acute care.

Other concerns are the state of the health of the community. Is the air safe to breathe? Is the water safe to drink? Are the citizens at risk for certain diseases and infections because of the decaying garbage, stagnant water, and contamination of the soil and water supply? What about the mental health of the citizens who have been traumatized by losing their homes, their jobs, their pets, and are separated from their families who live in different parts of the country?

So let me provide with some suggestions on what to do when you don't know what to do.

Should I drink the water? Initially the Environmental Protection Agency found high levels of bacteria, fecal contamination as well as arsenic and lead in the flood waters. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared the drinking water safe. They suggest that when you first return to your home, you run the tap water for 15 minutes to flush the lines of any stagnant water that has been in the pipes for days for weeks. Also, it is suggested that tap water not be used to make up infant formula.

Am I at risk for infectious diseases? Another rumor that can be laid to rest is the health danger from floating corpses in the water. There is generally no health danger from dead bodies in the flood waters. Initially, right after the storm the flood waters were contaminated with sewage and could cause diarrhea. With the flood waters gone, this is not as much a problem. However, it is important to wash your hands with soap and water or use of the alcohol-based gels whenever possible after toileting or before eating.

Is the air safe? Mold has become an issue and can lead to upper respiratory infections. Mold grows on wet, porous items like carpet and upholstered furniture should be tossed out. I also suggest wearing a protective mask and clothing while clearing up to minimize exposure. CDC - Protect Yourself from Mold

And of course, those pesky mosquitoes. The excess standing water caused by massive flooding could provide fertile breeding grounds for insects, especially mosquitoes which carry the deadly West Nile virus. However, with the cooler weather on the horizon, this may not be such a significant problem.

Mental health. There are expected stresses that occur after a natural disaster. The stress of losing a house, losing a job, and anxieties about the safety or survival of loved ones takes its toll on your mental health and well-being. Depression, anxiety and grief are among the mental health problems that may affect thousands of victims in our community who have been impacted by the hurricane. So if you or loved one is experiencing nightmares, flashbacks, or unrelenting sleeplessness you may have post-traumatic stress disorder and it would be in order to talk to a professional.

What about cuts and bruises? Physical trauma to bones and soft tissue are common after a hurricane. This occurs frequently when you return to your home to clean up after the flood waters have receded. If you plan to work around contaminated materials, be sure to get a tetanus shot if you haven't had one in the last ten years.

So now when you don't know what to do, you have some guidelines to follow. For those who would like address, phone numbers and websites if you are need of medical, social, or government assistance you can see my website, www.neilbaum.com, or call me at 504.891.8454. Many resources are listed below.

Hurricane Relief and Health Resources:

Katrina Raises Health Concerns
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Sept. 1, 2005

PAHO's special page on Hurricane Katrina

Medical, Social and Government Assistance: