Medical Professionals Seek To Address Irene's Emotional Toll

11/15/11 7:34AM By Nancy Eve Cohen
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VPR/Nancy Eve Cohen
The White River in West Hartford after Irene.
(Host) Although it's been more than two months since Tropical Storm Irene hit, many people are still affected.

For some it's financial. For others it's emotional. Tonight in Randolph, health experts from Gifford Hospital and the Clara Martin Center are holding an event to discuss the psychological toll wrought by the storm.

VPR's Nancy Cohen reports.

(Cohen) After the flood waters clawed apart the landscape in late August, emergency health care providers went into isolated communities, like Rochester, to offer help. Psychiatrist Kevin Buchanan is the medical director of the Clara Martin Center.

(Buchanan) "Initially many people were just devastated by the event. Many people's lives had been drastically changed - lost homes, lost cars. ... Initially a lot of people  were severely traumatized."

(Cohen) Buchanan says some people have had trouble sleeping, have been irritable, depressed, anxious or have had trouble concentrating.

(Buchanan) "For the vast majority of people, symptoms gradually resolve and they get back to things. For some people that's not happening. Their symptoms are continuing or they're still struggling to get their lives back. Those people would benefit from getting more help counseling or something along that line."

(Cohen) For some people the symptoms are physical, but they may be related to psychological stress.

Pediatrician Lou DiNicola from the Gifford Medical Center says when a child comes into his office who can't sleep well or who has a stomach or head ache, one of the first questions he asks is how they were affected by the flood.

(DiNicola) "The physical problems are real. But until you realize where they're coming from, we can't go back and erase Irene. But we can help them get through it."

(Cohen) DiNicola says he and his colleagues want to get the message out that  Vermont has medical and mental health resources to help people through the trauma.

For VPR News I'm Nancy Cohen

Event Details:

Gifford Hospital and the Clara Martin Center
6-7:30 p.m.
Conference Center
44 South Main Street, Randolph


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Our reporting on the recovery from Tropical Storm Irene is supported by the VPR Journalism Fund. 

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