Superstorm Sandy Project

New Jersey Project

A Special Innovation Project conducted by HQSI and funded by CMS

On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy hit the Eastern Seaboard, impacting more than a dozen states. New Jersey, which took the brunt of the storm along its densely populated coastline, was devastated. Lessons learned from prior natural disasters showed that victims of disasters like Superstorm Sandy are often at an elevated risk for acute behavioral health issues. While disaster-related issues subside over time, evidence shows that victims – especially those with pre-existing mental health issues – can experience a prolonged period of elevated risk. Older adults and disabled residents with mental health conditions are at increased risk.

The HQSI Project Team, with assistance from Subject Matter Experts, designed this project to:

  • Support a community-based approach to enhance the coordination of behavioral health services after a natural disaster and increase utilization of the Medicare depression screening benefit
  • Utilize Medicare claims data for Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) beneficiaries residing in the 10 FEMA-declared disaster counties by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Ocean, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset, and Union)


HQSI created data profiles for each of these counties and a subset of 10 communities impacted by the storm. The county profile introduction explains HQSI’s methodology, measurement time frames, and data considerations. The final version of the profiles was released in July 2014.