First Group of Hopkins Medical Experts Heads to Gulf Coast

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September 3, 2005

First Group of Hopkins Medical Experts Heads to Gulf Coast

Johns Hopkins medical experts are leading two American Red Cross medical needs assessment teams that left Friday for the Gulf Coast area to determine the number of emergency medical facilities the Red Cross needs to establish there and what health care resources will be required to meet the crisis unfolding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Thomas Kirsch, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of emergency medicine, director of emergency operations at the Hopkins School of Medicine, and deputy director of Hopkins’ Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) is heading one of the four-person Red Cross teams.  W. Courtland Robinson, Ph.D., an assistant professor of international health at the Center for Refugee and Disaster Response at Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, is leading the other team.

Kirsch flew to Baton Rouge, La., where his team will assess the Red Cross’s need for doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, as well as for additional Red Cross shelters.  Kirsch is a former national physician advisor for the Red Cross’s Disaster Health Services and a former disaster consultant for the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Robinson will be based in Montgomery, Ala., but will be focusing his team’s assessment on the Mississippi Gulf Coast region.  He teaches at Hopkins’ Center for International Emergency Disaster and Refugee Studies (CIEDRS) and has worked with numerous refugee and charitable organizations.

Other Hopkins experts joining Kirsch and Robinson on the fact-finding mission for the Red Cross include Marguerite Littleton-Kearney, R.N., a public health nurse who teaches disaster management at the Hopkins School of Nursing; disaster relief expert Alex Vu, D.O., M.P.H., an instructor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine who also went to Aceh, Indonesia, following the tsunami last December; and Kellogg Schwab, Ph.D., an assistant professor and co-director of the Center for Water and Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose areas of expertise include water-borne illnesses and sanitation.

Additional Hopkins experts have gone or are expected to go to the Gulf Coast.  Lee Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D. senior resident in emergency medicine, has already been deployed as part of a New Jersey Disaster Medical Assistance Team (D-MAT).  Riccardo Collela, D.O., director of the emergency medical service at Howard County General Hospital, which is part of Hopkins Medicine, is on standby to be deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).