SUSAN DENTZER: Bill Horan is Operation Blessing's president.
BILL HORAN, Operation Blessing: The average number of deaths per month has increased almost 50 percent since Katrina, while at the same time the population has diminished by almost 50 percent. So that's why people are lined up here at 4 and 5 in the morning for free medical service.
SUSAN DENTZER: One of the nearly 4,000 patients who came that week was 38-year-old Julia [last name withheld]. She contracted tuberculosis from living in a homeless shelter before Hurricane Katrina. But the storm cut short her months-long course of treatment for T.B., when it shut down the city's charity clinics for the uninsured.
JULIA, Hurricane Katrina Victim: I couldn't go back to charity because there was no more charity. So I didn't know where to go. I mean, I didn't know who to call. I didn't know what to do.
SUSAN DENTZER: Smiddy pointed out tell-tale signs of the old tuberculosis on [Julia's] chest X-ray. He told us gaps in treatment like the one she experienced can lead to deadly drug-resistant strains of T.B.
DR. JOSEPH SMIDDY: This creates an environment for resistant tuberculosis to have intermittent treatment, so it's a serious problem. And that's part of why we're here, is to help identify those patients.
SUSAN DENTZER: Another doctor then gave [Julia] a referral to New Orleans' Public Health Department, where she'd get special antibiotics to start another nine-month course of T.B. treatment.
JULIA: That's great.
SUSAN DENTZER: Also at the fair was 71-year-old Mary Henry, who had just returned to New Orleans after 18 months up north.
MARY HENRY, Hurricane Katrina Victim: I haven't seen a doctor in maybe about three weeks or a month in Detroit. And I'm going to be here for a little while trying to get my house repaired.
SUSAN DENTZER: Like thousands now back in the city, Henry suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure and had a dizzy spell as she arrived at the fair. Henry quickly saw Dr. Steven Smith of the famed Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
DR. STEVEN SMITH, Mayo Clinic: You know that measurement called an A1c? It's an average of how your blood sugar has been for, like, the last two months. It says on the average your blood sugar has been about 300, I would say. So it's been kind of high.
MARY HENRY: Also, when my sugar is high, I get real sleepy. And my finger tips, my finger tips feel like burning.
DR. STEVEN SMITH: All this blood sugar is running around your bloodstream; it's not getting to your body where it needs to be.
SUSAN DENTZER: Smith wrote her a raft of prescriptions, including one for a blood sugar monitor, all to be filled for free at the health fair's pharmacy.
DR. STEVEN SMITH: So, you know, diabetes is not just a blood sugar illness. It's a blood vessel illness for heart attack and strokes. So that's why treatment of your blood pressure, you know, treatment of the cholesterol is all very, very important. So that's unfortunately why you end up on so many medicines.
SUSAN DENTZER: The doctors told us Henry's best hope for getting her medicines in the future would be through one of the local clinics set up post-Katrina. This one is run by Operation Blessing adjacent to the health fair grounds.