Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans with unprecedented and devastating damage to the city and its medical institutions. The effect on graduate medical education (GME) at LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC-NO) was immediate and profound. Initial problems were (a) preserving education and training for the many dispersed house officers who were also regarded as evacuees and (b) overcoming our closed Charity Hospital, a historic and major public teaching facility (380 house officers for all LSUHSC-NO residency programs). We describe the survival and recovery of our GME programs. Some residents stayed and performed heroic service at public and community-isolated or damaged hospitals in New Orleans and throughout southeast Louisiana. All house officers and their families became evacuees to other cities as residents of LSUHSC-NO were dispersed throughout the state following the hurricane. House officers treated evacuated patients and others in outlying public institutions. As the year progressed, more innovative partnership opportunities were quickly established among outlying public hospitals and, ultimately, the private institutions closer to New Orleans. We present data (see tables and figures) that reflect house officers pre-Katrina, leading to the recovery of LSUHSC-NO's GME programs within the New Orleans community. These newly established alliances show that the 621 pre-Katrina residency positions became 501 positions post-Katrina. Attempts were made to align available house officer positions to compatible teaching and patient care opportunities in regional sites. Residency program reviews demonstrated continuation of quality education and patient care delivery. For the future, we anticipate the imminent reopening of our university hospital and construction of a new teaching hospital proposed as a partnership between LSU and the Veterans Administration Medical Center. A fully functional and effective GME program is essential to any health sciences center. The final Katrina impact remains uncertain, yet LSU has maintained its vitality, with minimal losses to its mission. Lessons learned offer numerous implications for other health care institutions confronted with planning for or surviving major disasters. Many challenges lie ahead, but the recovery groundwork has been established and the future remains bright.
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