Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–July 10, 2010. Today Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Grand Isle Beach and New Orleans, Louisiana as part the Department’s ongoing efforts to to address the public health and mental health aspects of the Gulf oil spill. She was joined by HHS officials Dr. James Galloway, health liaison to the National Incident Command, and Dr. Eric Broderick, Deputy Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
“We aim to protect the overall health of the people in the Gulf states,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Our priority at HHS is to prevent injuries and other health consequences, including mental and behavioral health impacts, and to support state and local efforts to address any health threats faced by workers, volunteers, and Gulf coast residents.
We are especially concerned about mental health, as it is clear from past experiences and from all our discussions today that mental health and substance abuse issues are likely to be some of the most long-lasting effects of this oil spill.”
In Grand Isle Beach, Secretary Sebelius toured the beach and discussed health and safety issues with cleanup workers. Later, Sebelius met with local business owners and area residents to discuss the medical, economic, and emotional impacts of the oil spill on this Gulf coast community.
In New Orleans, Sebelius and other HHS officials participated in a community discussion, moderated by the Deep South Center for Environment Justice at Dillard University.
“We are committed to working with state, local, and community partners to ensure people here have access to needed services,” added Sebelius.
The Obama Administration is involved in ongoing efforts to prevent injuries, Illnesses and exposure to hazardous substances among response personnel and the general public; ensure the safety of seafood from areas affected by the oil spill; monitor the potential short- and long-term health impacts of the oil spill; facilitate access to care to those impacted by the spill; and address stress and mental health issues in conjunction with state and local health agencies.