Gériatrie et Psychologie Neuropsychiatrie du Vieillissement


Increase of mortality associated with emergency relocation of elderly nursing homes residents following flooding in the Var district, France, 2010 Volume 10, issue 4, Décembre 2012


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Cellule de l’Institut de veille sanitaire (InVS) en région sud, Marseille, France, Établissement d’accueil des résidents étudiés, Draguignan, France

On June 15th, 2010, the Var district was hit by heavy rain causing floods and mudslides. A nursing home for elderly people was subject to an emergency evacuation and had to relocate 140 residents in other hosting facilities in the region. A prospective cohort study was conducted through two evaluations of the residents’ health conditions: before the flood and five months after they had returned in their homes. The monthly mortality data recorded in the facility in 2010 was compared with data from 2004 to 2009 of the same facility, and with the 2010 data from two other facilities located in the disaster area that had not evacuated their residents. The number of deaths recorded in the month following the floods was three times higher than the average number of expected deaths over the study period, and even twice higher during the second month. This excess mortality was not observed in the two other facilities studied in the disaster area. Most deceased arised in older people, more often in men, in state of high dependance and living in medical care units. These results suggest that despite the measures implemented by the rescue teams, the emergency displacement and relocation of elderly people, inevitable in this context, can have serious consequences. Where possible, the need for displacement must be discussed, prepared in advance, and followed by specific support for more vulnerable people.