Dr. Stephen S. Morse, professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, served as a guest editor of a special issue on superstorm Sandy of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, the publication of the Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, published by the American Medical Association. The articles provide insights into the public health response and recovery to major natural disturbances as well as lessons that can be applied to any disaster or public health emergency.
[Photo: Dr. Stephen S. Morse]
The body of literature presented in the issue draws on 31 initial projects and 13 additional companion projects that were funded by Department of Health and Human Services after Sandy. “Many of the articles presented attempt to illuminate the lessons learned from the experience of Hurricane Sandy and how we can use these lessons to better improve and inform our response to future disasters and public health emergencies,” said Dr. Morse. “Many of the findings in this collection also reemphasize fundamentals of disaster response that are already well known but are not well practiced, and other findings are less intuitive and contribute new insights that should be shared with public health emergency planners and the emergency management community to inform planning and ensure that we are learning from past experiences.”
Dr. Morse, who focuses on epidemiology and risk assessment of infectious diseases and improving disease early warning systems, was also an author of the cover article, “Investigating the Public Health Impact of Hurricane Sandy,” as was associate editor Michael Reilly, DrPH, adjunct assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences. The article addressed the second wave of public health concerns that emerged in the days and weeks following the storm. The destruction of acute care hospitals, the closure of pharmacies, and the closure of private physicians’ offices owing to power loss or lack of staff able and willing to report to work contributed to the exacerbation of many chronic illnesses. Mold contamination was also a great concern and one of the most pervasive complaints of the public in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Dr. Morse was also recently named an associate editor of the journal.