Haiti 2010 Earthquake Response

Officials now blame Super Bowl for freeze on medical airlifts

Last Wednesday, the government put a freeze on medical evacuations of Haitians to hospitals in the U.S. for critical care.  Since then, Florida and federal officials have offered conflicting explanations for the freeze, which came after Florida Governor Charlie Crist sent a letter to HHS requesting reimbursement for the cost of Haitian medical care. Crist says his letter was misinterpreted. Still, two Haitians on the evacuation list died waiting for help that never arrived.

Now, officials are saying the freeze was necessary due to an expected influx of visitors for the Super Bowl.  But, why is hospital bed space a concern when there are football games in town, but not at other times? And, why couldn’t states that weren’t hosting the Super Bowl take in the Haitians?

The federal government does appear to lack a plan for efficiently distributing emergency cases among hospitals with necessary facilities.  It has long been recognized that mass casualty events need centralized coordination of medical resources. But, it also seems noteworthy that, on Monday, the federal government resumed medical evacuations and announced that it will reimburse states for emergency care costs, as if the issues are intertwined.

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