Hurricanes Katrina and Rita forced hundreds of thousands of people out of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Many subsequently became ill or injured or had chronic medical needs that made it necessary for them to be admitted to a hospital in their host state. At the same time, thousands of hospital patients from the states affected by the storms were evacuated to hospitals in other states.
As the health care infrastructure in affected counties and parishes gradually becomes able to accept patients again, evacuees from some of these areas may be able to return to the facility from which they were originally evacuated, be discharged to a private residence or travel to an interim location to be closer to friends and family. To set this process in motion, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has established the HHS Medical Travel Center, a transportation program to support the return of evacuees to Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas who are currently patients in health care facilities in other states or who otherwise have on-going medical needs.
Attached below is an HHS fact sheet featuring a description of the Medical Travel Center, the procedures required to arrange for transportation and frequently asked questions. Also attached with the fact sheet is a “Documentation of Medical Necessity” form for discharge planners. If your hospital is caring for evacuated patients, this information will be critical to ensuring their coordinated and safe transportation back to their home or to an interim location.