Federal grant to fund research into Sandy recovery

More than $8 million in grants will support research to aid the long-term recovery in areas hard hit by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The grants represent the first time the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has funded research needed by local communities to support long-term recovery efforts.

HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will administer the grant through the Hurricane Sandy Recovery and Rebuilding Supplemental Appropriation Act of 2013.

“We hope the grants provide a catalyst for the scientific community to put more emphasis on the study of recovery from disasters; much more research is needed to support decision making in the long-term recovery process and ultimately to improve resilience,” said Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response. “We anticipate that the findings not only will help community leaders make evidence-based decisions about recovery plans and policies in affected areas but also that the knowledge gained can improve resilience across the entire country.”

Over the next two years, research will focus on physical and behavioral health aspects of recovery including community resilience, risk communication and the use of social media, health system response and health care access, evacuation and policy decision making, and mental health.

The grants require researchers to share their findings with each other and the impacted communities.

Nine grant recipients will receive a total of approximately $5 million, and $3.6 million will be available to support additional research requirements and resources. Academic institutions and organizations receiving grants are:

American College of Emergency Physicians, Irving, Texas – approximately $444,000 to study how health care systems were impacted negatively before, during and after Hurricane Sandy and to develop comprehensive recommendations on how to strengthen health care systems going forward to treat patients effectively during disaster events.

Columbia University, New York City – approximately $596,000 to assess how community-level factors such as economic development, communication, and social connections influence mental and behavioral health recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and a second grant of approximately $276,000 to assess the resilience of residents of high-rise public housing in responding to Sandy’s impact.

New York University School of Medicine, New York City – approximately $752,000 to assess the resilience and response of a complex regional health care system impacted by Hurricane Sandy and the evaluation of patient care during and after the disaster.

RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, Calif. – approximately $657,000 to explore how partnerships between local health departments and community-based organizations contribute to the public health system’s ability to respond to and recover from emergencies and contribute to resilience.

Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, N.J.– approximately $681,000 to examine how social networks within neighborhoods play a critical role in determining resilience of older Americans exposed to disasters.

University of Delaware, Newark– approximately $574,000 to identify critical factors that influence community resilience and use these factors to create a computer program that supports community resilience in New York City after Hurricane Sandy.

University of Maryland, Baltimore – approximately $417,000 to determine how social connections in a community of Maryland watermen influence their individual behavior and how the behavior impacts disaster recovery after Hurricane Sandy.

University of Pittsburgh – approximately $576,000 to study ways to minimize disruptions of access to primary health care services during recovery from major disasters, especially for at-risk populations.

The grants are being coordinated with others administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are part of a broader effort by HHS to support public health system recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

To learn more about health recovery from Hurricane Sandy visit hhs.gov/sandy. More information about ASPR and preparedness, response and recovery from the health impacts of disasters is available at the HHS public health and medical emergency website, www.phe.gov.