Vulnerable Populations in an American Red Cross Shelter After Hurricane Katrina

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Abstract

TOPIC

During Katrina, people suddenly encountered multiple losses, including homes, finances, medications, and death of loved ones. The Model of Vulnerable Populations illustrates how reduced resources placed individuals at greater risk for harm.

PURPOSE

Using vignettes and the Model of Vulnerable Populations, a psychiatric nurse discusses her experiences as an American Red Cross psychiatric/mental health nurse volunteer after the Katrina disaster at a Mississippi shelter.

CONCLUSIONS

The role of the mental health nurse volunteer was demonstrated by assessment and interventions of advocacy, referral, crisis intervention, and general support and education.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS

Using the Model of Vulnerable Populations, psychiatric nurses can improve mental health assessment and services by counseling, advocacy, triage, and teaching disease prevention strategies such as hand washing.

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