Ten months ago Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey. Many lost everything. Others were forced out of their homes for months. That can take a toll on anyone’s mental well-being. Healthcare Quality Strategies, Inc. (HQSI) has been awarded a grant to study the mental health impact Sandy has had on New Jerseyans.The year-long project will compare the use of selected Medicare services before and after Sandy in the FEMA-declared disaster counties. HQSI will use the data to identify 10 communities that have the greatest opportunity for behavioral health-related improvements and then help the them minimize negative health consequences for seniors at increased risk for depression and people with pre-existing mental health illnesses, and to plan for future disasters.

“The more we learn about how this disaster affected our Medicare beneficiaries, the better we can prepare for any future disaster and help ensure the health and well-being of all New Jersey residents,” said Martin Margolies, chief executive officer of HQSI.

A final project report is expected to be submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in July 2014.

“None of us wants to experience another disaster like Sandy,” said Suzanne Dalton, project lead for HQSI. “But if we do experience another disaster we want to be as prepared as possible.”