Disaster Readiness Committee 


       Co-chair                                                       Co-chair     
   alt                              alt
                                Katherine Koh, MD                           Giuseppe Raviola, MD, MPH                 

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November 2020 Disaster Committee Report

The MPS Disaster Readiness Committee has led three MPS town halls this year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. These have focused on disaster psychiatry in the context of previous pandemics, social determinants of health in the COVID-19 pandemic and using lessons from COVID-19 to shape the future of psychiatry. We plan to continue to hold town halls as well as other educational events throughout the year as we face this unprecedented disaster as a community. We will continue to meet quarterly as a group, and our hope is to attract new members. Our aim is to understand how disasters as broadly defined impact mental health and to think about how we can best support our patients, colleagues, and community members alike during disasters.

2017 Disaster Committee Report

Major hurricanes caused devastating losses in Texas, Florida, the U.S, Virgin Islands, and other areas of the Caribbean during the months of August and September 2017. More globally, there was a major earthquake in Mexico. These unexpected and catastrophic crises around the world emphasize the importance of our being ready as psychiatrists to help address the sequelae of disasters when they occur. Earlier this year, the Disaster Committee conducted a Red Cross approved training for members to teach preparedness and treatment. Dr. Margaret Tompsett, co-chair of the MPS Disaster Committee along with Drs. Fred Stoddard and Todd Holzman, reported on their work this year. At the time of this meeting in September Dr. Holzman was serving in Lesothe, South Africa to initiate a Mental Health program with the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the established programs with Partners In Health Programs in Early Childhood Development, Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Dr. Fred Stoddard has co-authored several psychiatric textbooks on disaster recovery and continues to be a resource for the American Psychiatric Association District Branches 2,3 Dr. Tompsett will be deploying to Texas to assist with recovery efforts related to Hurricane Harvey. Recent communications to district branch presidents from the American Psychiatric Association noted that the Red Cross is actively recruiting volunteer psychiatrists to work in Texas. The office of the Governor of Texas will temporarily suspend state statues and rules to allow health physicians currently employed by a hospital and licensed and in good standing in another state to practice in Texas in order to assist in the response operations. The American Psychiatric Association Foundation has created a fund to provide support to those impacted by the Hurricanes. Please visit the Foundation’s Disaster relief page at americanpsychiatricfoundation.org for more information on how you may help.

Disaster Readiness (cont. by Todd Holzman, MD, Margaret Tompsett, MD)

Fred Stoddard, Todd Holzman and Margaret Tompsett continued doing a one-hour presentation at several of the medical schools in the state including Tufts, BU and U-MASS. This led up to a Disaster Preparedness Course on April 8th which was attended by about 60 mental health professionals. The course was well received with high ratings for the speakers. Six people showed interest in being on an MPS Disaster Preparedness Committee and we met at Fred Stoddard’s home in May. All members were encouraged to join the Red Cross to get basic training and experience in disaster work.

During this academic year we have already given one talk at the VA in Brockton and have another one scheduled for Tufts. The committee will meet in October and will determine at that time whether to organize another disaster course.

We have sent out material to our members about how to help with survivors of Hurricane Harvey. I plan to deploy with the Red Cross as soon as I return from England on October 3rd.