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Help for Students, Other Relief Efforts for Hurricane Katrina Victims

By Mitchel Benson on September 2, 2005 in

The University of California, Davis, is offering assistance to students and others displaced by Hurricane Katrina and contributing to efforts to help the Gulf region recover from the disaster. Campus officials are also working to identify ways UC Davis can assist those in need, for example, through blood donations, financial contributions or volunteer service.

"It's hard to comprehend the depth of destruction and personal tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina, with each day bringing yet more heartrending stories and images of what is believed to be the nation's deadliest natural disaster since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire," said UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef.

UC Davis has about 40 current students and 300 alumni from the affected region, Vanderhoef said. He encouraged faculty and staff to consider making personal donations to the charitable organizations leading the relief effort.

A Red Cross blood drive is planned within the next few weeks. UC Davis employees wishing to provide volunteer service through official relief agencies such as the Red Cross and FEMA may be granted paid leave, with the approval of their supervisor.

Student admissions

The campus has received 35 requests for consideration to date from freshmen who are unable to begin their studies in the areas affected by the hurricane. Two have already been accepted. The School of Law has received at least 10 inquiries from students at Tulane University law school; the Graduate School of Management has received one inquiry so far.

The UC Davis Health System is working, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with other medical schools across the country to determine whether and how to accept medical student transfers or reassigned medical residents from schools in the impacted areas.

Graduate Studies and the other professional schools are also ready to process late admissions from displaced students. The exact conditions and fees under which these students would be admitted are under discussion.

"We want to open our arms and our doors to these students," Vanderhoef said.

Relief efforts

At the request of the NIH, UC Davis has appointed a "Katrina Liaison Officer," Timothy Albertson, to coordinate the institution's medical response to the crisis. Albertson is a professor of medicine, emergency medicine, pharmacology and anesthesiology, and medical director of the Sacramento Division of the California Poison Control System. He has been a member of the California National Guard for 17 years, where he has served as state surgeon for three years.

The UC Davis Health System is also working with the NIH and the Department of Defense regarding the possible use of its telemedicine system for remote consultation. Established in 1992, the system allows community hospitals and clinics in outlying areas to have access to medical specialists at UC Davis Medical Center through high-speed video links.

The health system is also in contact with representatives of the federal Department of Health and Human Services and the NIH, to offer assistance in staffing federal emergency field hospitals.

Similarly, the School of Veterinary Medicine has been working with NIH, with the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Louisiana, and with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges to find ways to provide support. The school has faculty members who are experienced in disaster response.

In addition, UC Davis researchers and research facilities are welcoming contacts from universities and laboratories affected by Hurricane Katrina. The campus may be able to provide lab space, facilities and technical support to enable critical research programs to continue. Contact the UC Davis Office of Research at (530) 752-4566 or see the research Web site at http://www.research.ucdavis.edu for more information. The campus is also considering ways to make library and research resources available to faculty and researchers at affected universities and colleges. More information will soon be available at the UC Davis library's home page, http://www.lib.ucdavis.edu.

Media contact(s)

Mitchel Benson, (530) 752-9844, mdbenson@ucdavis.edu

Lisa Lapin, (530) 752-9842, lalapin@ucdavis.edu

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