Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals | Kathy Kliebert, Secretary

Statewide Initiatives

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Department of Health & Hospitals, Stay Healthy Louisiana release critical Special Needs Shelter information

Wednesday, June 14, 2006  |  Contact: Media & Communications: Phone: 225.342.1532, E-mail:

BATON ROUGE—In the event of a dangerous storm striking the state this Hurricane Season, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) and the Department of Social Services (DSS) are prepared to open Special Needs Shelters, or shelters of last resort for those with special medical needs who have no other options for care. Because Special Needs Shelters can accommodate only a limited number of residents, DHH has established specific guidelines for determining who will be admitted to these facilities.

As part of the Stay Healthy Louisiana campaign to ensure Louisiana residents are prepared for natural disasters and other emergencies, DHH has posted these guidelines, along with other critical Special Needs Shelter information, on the Stay Healthy Louisiana Web site at These guidelines and other information, including important phone numbers and what to bring when sheltering in a Special Needs facility, are listed below:

Where will the Special Needs Shelters be located?

The initial locations are scheduled to be in Baton Rouge and Alexandria. Other subsequent locations are Shreveport, Monroe and, depending on the direction of the storm, Lafayette.

When will these shelters open?

The State Health Officer makes the decision to open Special Needs Shelters based on information received from the State Office of Emergency Preparedness as communities prepare to evacuate.

Who qualifies for a Special Needs Shelter?

Evacuees with any of the following could possibly qualify for a Special Needs Shelter:

      Physical or mental handicaps that limits their ability to function on their own
      Requirements for special equipment or medication to sustain life
      A chronic, debilitating medical condition that requires intermittent assistance

Individuals will be triaged, or interviewed about their special medical needs and conditions, in order to determine eligibility for Special Needs Shelters. Those who think they may qualify for Special Needs sheltering will need to call one of the nine toll-free shelter hotline numbers listed below prior to an evacuation in order to be interviewed and find out their eligibility status. These toll-free shelter hotlines are NOT currently activated, but will be activated immediately before a storm. The shelter hotline numbers will be published or broadcast through local media when they are activated and will be posted on the Stay Healthy Louisiana Web site,
Those who do not meet eligibility requirements will be referred to general shelters. Acutely ill individuals will be referred to local hospitals.

Special Needs Shelter hotline numbers::

New Orleans:  1-866-280-2068

Baton Rouge:  1-800-349-1372

Thibodaux:      1-800-228-9409

Lafayette:        1-800-901-3210

Alexandria:      1-800-841-5778

Shreveport:      1-800-841-5776

Monroe:           1-866-280-7287

Mandeville:      1-866-280-7724

What to bring to a Special Needs Shelter:

The patient and caregiver should bring supplies for a five-day trip. These supplies should include:

      Medications in their prescription bottles and all over-the-counter medications. Ask your pharmacist to print a list of your medications to bring with you.
      Written instructions regarding medical care
      Walker, wheelchair, cane or other special supplies and equipment such as a urinal
      Special, non-perishable dietary foods, such as Ensure
      Bedding, air mattress
      Personal hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, towels, etc.
      Identification, medical insurance, social security cards and emergency contact information.
      Drinking water (one gallon per day)
      Extra eyeglasses
      Flashlight and batteries
      Garbage bags
      Style and serial numbers for medical devices (such as pacemakers)
      Food for guide or service dog (if applicable)

All medications and important paperwork should be placed in a water-proof container such as a zip lock bag or plastic container. Home Health and Hospice patients should bring their folders. Hospice patients need to bring DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders.

Due to limited space at the shelters, oxygen patients should make arrangements ahead of time with their suppliers to obtain oxygen concentrators.

One caregiver must stay with the patient within the shelter and only service animals are allowed to accompany the patient and caregiver. Since space is extremely limited and the caregiver will share a space with the patient, alternative arrangements should be made for other family members and pets.

For more information on Special Needs Shelters and emergency preparedness, visit the Stay Healthy Louisiana Web site at .  For more on the Stay Healthy Louisiana campaign, contact Rob Anderson, Stay Healthy Louisiana Communications & Media Manager, at 504-301-9854 or

Information on the Stay Healthy Louisiana and its partner agencies:

Launched immediately following Hurricane Katrina as a partnership between the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals and the Louisiana Public Health Institute, Stay Healthy Louisiana was designed to provide Louisiana residents with easy access to critical public health information after the crisis. Now, thanks to funding support from the Centers for Disease Control Foundation’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund, the Stay Healthy Louisiana campaign is moving forward with a focus on preparation for disasters and emergency situations.
In the coming months the Stay Healthy Louisiana campaign will expand its focus beyond emergency preparedness to other health issues, such as, disease prevention, mental health, fitness and nutrition and safe environmental conditions. The Web site will become a centralized resource for public health information in Louisiana.

The mission of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) is to protect and promote health and to ensure access to medical, preventive, and rehabilitative services for all citizens of the State of Louisiana.

The goal of the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) is to promote and improve health and quality of life in Louisiana at the community, parish, and state level. We connect people, ideas, organizations, and resources to bring about positive change.

The CDC Foundation helps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do more, faster by forging effective partnerships between CDC and individuals, foundations and corporations to fight threats to health and safety.