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National Center for Disaster Preparedness

Directed by Irwin Redlener, MD, CHF President and Co-founder

Dr. Redlener is the first director of this new center created in 2003 by the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. The Center is an expansion of the school's existing disaster preparedness program, which Dr. Redlener has been deeply involved in as associate dean for Public Health and Disaster Preparedness. The National Center acts as a resource and training ground for public health emergency preparedness. With Children's Health Fund's prominent role in the Center, a key goal of its efforts are to identify and provide for the physical, social and psychological needs of children in responding to terrorism.

In April 2006 and January 2007, CHF and the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University released the results of the first and second stages of a comprehensive rapid health assessment of families displaced due to Hurricane Katrina.

The results suggest that these children and families are in the midst of a public health and mental health crisis – chronic diseases are going untreated, clinical-level anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are on the rise, and the fragile safety nets that had protected these vulnerable populations in the past have been badly shredded by the hurricanes and their aftermath. 

In addition, scientists from the Mailman School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences worked in partnership with the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine to conduct a series of studies of mold exposure and respiratory health in school-aged children evacuated from New Orleans. Phase I measured the lung function of children in one school in Jefferson Parish while providing some of them with home sampling equipment. Since our clinicians have reported that children who did not previously require medication to control asthma now do, the findings from this study that document mold and other environmental triggers were very critical.