Shelter Health Surveillance

Primary Topic Areas: 
Public Health Problem (100 words): 

During the 2017 Houston floods Lauren Leining worked with the the American Red Cross to visit each disaster victim in a shelter to do bed evaluations, but learned it was a very common thing for people to refuse treatment for a variety of reasons. Many people didn’t want to walk to where the assessments were going on because it was often on one end of a giant convention center. Sometimes they just didn’t feel well enough – for example, they were in pain or their ankle hurt.

Success Story Narrative (400 words): 

Leining,  part of UT’s student epidemic intelligence society,  created to her own “COT” program during Hurricane Katrina which she implemented during the 2017 Houston floods. She started by organizing triage clinics within each hallway of the convention center where workers did assessments.

While Leining led the “COT” program the advisor instrumental in helping was Dr. Kristy Murray, Baylor College and Medicine. Fortunately, Hurricane Harvey was a rain-only event (no downed power lines and failed cell service) so Leining and Murray were able to use a google.doc survey, accessing people on their smart phones. In fact, having cell service was the primary reason people got out of their homes during Harvey. Leining was additionally thankful they didn’t have any wounds to treat during this disaster.  

Prior to Harvey, Leining had approached the health departments because they were part of their mission statement. She first organized an incident command as soon as the first rain drops fell on Friday. Then came the recruiting and first interviews structuring people to do certain jobs and then appointing those to oversee the whole operation.

Outcomes And Impact (400 words): 

Leining started her operation a week after Hurricane Harvey ended. She did not do it during the hurricane because they wanted people to remain safe inside. They conducted approximately 600-800 interviews per night – and only interviewed at night, after dinner time and before evacuees went to bed, roughly from 6-11 p.m., seven nights per week.

Lessons Learned (400 words): 

Due to Leining’s training operation and debriefing they were able to improve safety and health by simply talking to people at night. “There were a lot of single moms who were worried about their safety in the shelter.” Thankfully, Leining’s COT problem has helped in the response to the disaster.

Submitting Author Name: 
Lauren Leining
Submitting Author Title: 
Master's of Public Health Candidate in Epidemiology, President of Student Epidemic Intelligence Society, Director of Domestic Affairs on Student Society for Global Health
Submitting Author Organization: 
UT Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health
Submitting Author Phone: 
Submitting Author Email:

April 03, 2018

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