New Orleans lost its hospitals to Katrina's flood waters, and now risks losing its doctors and nurses to slow recovery -- leaving a big missing piece in the puzzle of putting the city back together.
The tens of thousands of residents who fled the city three months ago have dispersed to temporary homes across the country. Along with rebuilt homes, schools and other public services, adequate health care is needed to attract them back to the city.
"We are asking them to either risk their life and their health by moving back to an area where they are not going to have health care, or to leave New Orleans for good," Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke, a rehabilitation physician at Charity Hospital, said at a public meeting on the future of New Orleans' health and social services.
Just one acute care adult facility, Touro Infirmary, is operating within Orleans Parish boundaries and it cannot find the nurses and other support staff it needs to get back to pre-Katrina capacity of 260-270 beds.
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