Hurricane Harvey (HH) devastated Houston, Texas in August 2017. During October and November 2017, English speaking caregivers of hospitalized pediatric patients were surveyed on sociodemographic characteristics and how they were impacted by HH. One hundred caregivers were surveyed with 27% ‘severely impacted’ by HH. Approximately 75% of those severely impacted had a reported annual income ≤$50,000. Subjects in this lower income group were more likely to report increased worry about food for the household following HH and someone in the family losing their job due to HH. Those expressing that they were severely impacted by HH were more likely to report various disruptions in health maintenance and health impacts from the natural disaster including worse health impact on family members, worse household stress, and worse mental health of the caregiver. The results of this pilot study highlight disparities in social determinants of health and the needs of low income and severely impacted children and families following a natural disaster. With local, state, and national policies providing sustained critical inputs, communities and health systems need to be prepared to recognize and address these needs in vulnerable populations over the months and years after a natural disaster.
Key Take Away Points
- For this population of hospitalized children and their families, the reported impacts of Hurricane Harvey were disproportionately worse for low-income families.
- These results highlight disparities in social determinants of health following a natural disaster that communities, health systems, and policy makers need to be prepared to addressed in the months and years after a natural disaster.
Dr. Vonasek (MD) is a senior resident physician in the Dr. Kelly DeScioli Global Child Health Residency Program at Baylor College of Medicine. He will begin a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases in 2020 at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Greeley (MD, MS) is Chief of the Section of Public Health at Texas Children’s Hospital. He is Professor and Vice-Chair for Community Health in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Bocchini (MD, MS) is an assistant professor of pediatrics in the Section of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. Dr. Lopez (MD, MPH) is an assistant professor of pediatrics in the Section of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital.
Vonasek, Bryan J.; Greeley, Christopher; Bocchini, Claire Elizabeth; and Lopez, Michelle
"The Impact of Hurricane Harvey on the Wellbeing of Hospitalized Children and Their Families,"
Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk: Vol. 11:
1, Article 12.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/childrenatrisk/vol11/iss1/12