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Coping with Disaster: Relocating a Residency Program

Conlay, Lydia A. MD, PhD; Searle, Nancy S. EdD; Gitlin, Melvin C. MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3180cc2706

In September 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Tulane University School of Medicine relocated temporarily from New Orleans to the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. For Tulane's residency program in anesthesiology, a training consortium was formed in Texas consisting of the University of Texas at Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The authors explain the collaborative process that allowed the consortium to find spaces to accommodate Tulane's 30 anesthesiology residents within 30 days after they left New Orleans, and they offer reflections and recommendations.

The residents were grateful to continue training close to home, and for maintaining the Tulane program. The consortium successfully provided an administrative and academic framework, logistical support, clinical capacity for the residents to complete the required numbers and types of cases, and integration into preexisting didactic programs. Communications represented a major challenge; the importance of having an up-to-date disaster plan, including provisions for communication using more than one modality or provider, cannot be underestimated. Other challenges included resuming a training program without basic information regarding medical credentials or training status, competing for resources with businesses that had also relocated, maintaining a coordinated decision-making process, and managing the behavioral sequelae after the disaster.

Of the original 30 Tulane residents, 23 (77%) relocated to Houston. Seventeen (74%) of those who relocated either graduated or returned with the program to New Orleans. The program has retained its status of full accreditation.

Dr. Conlay is professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

Dr. Searle is associate professor, Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, and program director of faculty development, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

Dr. Gitlin is professor and chairman, Department of Anesthesiology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Conlay, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans' Affairs Medical Center, Department of Anesthesiology, 2002 Holcombe Blvd., Mail Stop 145, Houston, TX 77030; telephone: (713) 794-7689; e-mail: (

© 2007 Association of American Medical Colleges