For background…there has been some battling on this. Dr. Kevin Stephens the director of the
New Orleans Health Department is the lead author of the study reported on below. Stephens had testified before Congress in March on his findings. State epidemiologist Raoult Ratard challenged those findings with the May release of “a
study showing that the death rate has not drastically
escalated.” Now Dr. Stephens has published his study in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.
From USA Today…
Hurricane Katrina’s tragic aftermath lingered
for at least a year after the storm abated, boosting New Orleans’ death
rate last year by 47% compared with two years before the levees broke,
researchers reported Thursday.
Doctors say the dramatic surge in deaths comes as no surprise in a city
of 250,000 mostly poor and middle-class people who lost seven of 22
hospitals and half of the city’s hospital beds. More than 4,486 doctors
were displaced from three New Orleans parishes, creating a shortage
that still hampers many hospitals, says a companion study released
Stephens’ study contrasts with one carried out
by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, which found “only
slight excesses” in deaths in New Orleans Parish.
That study, released in May, found a death rate
of 14.3 per 1,000 people during the first three months of 2006,
compared with 11.3 per 1,000 for three-month spans in 2002 and 2004.
But Stephens says the state’s figure still tops
the U.S. rate of 8.1 per 1,000. “We don’t think that’s a slight
increase, we’ve think it’s a tremendous increase in mortality,” he
says. He called the state’s numbers “inaccurate and incomplete” because
they don’t count deaths of evacuees who left Louisiana.
The storm’s impact on the state office that tracks vital statistics
made those deaths difficult to measure. To get information, Stephens’
team tracked death notices in the New Orleans Times-Picayuneand
compared the findings with the state’s vital statistics. He said the
study wasn’t designed to determine what caused the excess deaths.
From January to June 2006, they found on average 1,317 death notices a
month, for a mortality rate of about 91 per 100,000 people. In 2002 and
2004, the average was 924 notices a month, for a death rate of 62 per
100,000, 47% fewer than after the storm.
I am more convinced by Dr. Stephens’ work. I would also agree with what Mark at Wet Bank Guide had concluded on this…
I still believe it comes down to this: no one in government wants you
to understand that more people died because of the incompetence of the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers than were killed on 9-11.