Oil Spill Gives Obama's Health Secretary an Opening to Push ‘Access to Needed Services’

By Susan Jones | July 12, 2010 | 9:37 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited the Gulf Coast of Louisiana on Friday as part of her department’s “ongoing efforts to address the public health and mental health aspects of the Gulf oil spill.”
Sebelius said she is particularly concerned about the mental health of people affected by the still-gushing oil.
“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," Sebelius said in a news release.
"We are committed to working with state, local, and community partners to ensure people here have access to needed services."
In Grand Isle Beach, Sebelius toured the beach and discussed health and safety issues with cleanup workers. Later, she met with local business owners and area residents to discuss the medical, economic, and emotional impacts of the oil spill on the Gulf coast community.
In New Orleans, Sebelius and other HHS officials participated in a community discussion, moderated by the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University.
The Obama administration says it is involved in ongoing efforts to prevent injuries, illnesses and exposure to hazardous substances among cleanup workers and the general public; ensure the safety of seafood; 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.
In other news, the commission appointed by President Obama to examine what caused the Gulf oil spill begins its work Monday, holding two days of hearings in New Orleans.

Also see:
HHS Secretary Unveils $3.5-Million 'Informational' Web Site ‘Healthcare.gov’