As we Americans watched the news reports of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, I’m sure most of us thought about what we could do to help. Some of us helped by sending money to relief organizations, others helped by loading bottled water onto trucks destined for the Gulf Coast, and many people, including family physicians, traveled to the area to assist in person. Other family physicians donated equipment and supplies from their own practices.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) quickly established two emergency funds to help hurricane victims and family physicians whose practices were seriously damaged or destroyed by the storm and its aftermath. As of this writing, nearly $160,000 has been contributed. The Academy also has disseminated information about how family physicians can volunteer their medical expertise. The AAFP launched a Web resource designed to update members on responses from the Academy, individual physicians, and constituent chapters to Hurricane Katrina. The page provides links to news coverage about the Academy’s response to the hurricane. Please go tohttps://www.aafp.org/x37610.xml for more information on relief activities.
How Could AFP Contribute?
This journal is recognized as a valuable resource for clinical information. Because of our production cycle, however, it is not as useful for disseminating breaking news quickly (for example, I’m writing this on September 20 for the October 15 issue). So we asked ourselves how we could help the relief efforts when the situation was changing daily?
The answer came when the Academy decided to add a list of resources to the AAFP Web site. We conducted a search of past articles using key words such as infectious disease, contaminated water, and post-traumatic stress. These articles, as well as other Academy resources, have been added to the hurricane-related resource section of the Academy Web site.
We hope we have made access to this information convenient by consolidating it into one area of the Web site. I’m sure there are many other AFP articles that may assist physicians in the wake of this and other natural disasters. Considering the scope of this situation, our contribution is small, but we salute the many physicians and other health care professionals who have done so much for those whose lives have been devastated by this storm.
AFP Delivery Delays
As you might expect, mail delivery was interrupted in much of the area affected by the hurricane. In early September, we received notice from the United States Postal Service that mail delivery was suspended in specific areas. This included standard mail and periodical mail. Also, one week after the hurricane, we learned that more than 36,000 people in the affected area had filed change-of-address notices. I’m sure that number has increased by now.
The AFP circulation department is monitoring the situation carefully to adhere to postal regulations. We also are printing extra copies of the September and October issues to meet the anticipated demand for replacement copies. We are working with our mailing service and, upon request, will send missed issues of AFP to readers as mail delivery is restored. In some areas, this may take some time. If you have questions, or if you are experiencing delivery or service problems, you can contact the AFP circulation department directly at (800) 274–2237, ext. 5168 or 5164.