Sandy-Battered Health Center Receives $150,000 Grant to Aid Recovery

Direct Relief was on site at the Ryan-NENA Community Health Center in Manhattan’s Lower East Side this morning to present a $150,000 grant to help the center boost recovery efforts and continue providing essential primary health services for residents in the community.

“This grant award means we can go forward continuing to care for people on the Lower East Side and make sure we’re prepared for the next emergency,” said Kathy Gruber, executive director of Ryan-NENA.

The center is one of 26 of health centers treating the most vulnerable people in New York and New Jersey that are receiving a combined $1.5 million in grants from the Sandy Safety Net Fund, a joint initiative established by Direct Relief and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) to support nonprofit healthcare safety-net facilities in Sandy-affected communities.

When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast in November, the Ryan-NENA Community Health Center sustained power outages and serious damage, but continued to help New Yorkers in need, providing critical patient services with the help of generators.

Many people in the neighboring community were without food, electricity, water, and heat after the storm and turned to the Ryan-NENA for support. With additional medicines and supplies from Direct Relief, they were able to meet the increased need.

“We met Direct Relief in the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy when they provided hundreds of personal care packs, medical supplies and nutritional items,” said Gruber. “We thank them so much for their contributions.”

The emergency cash grant will bring relief to the Center that struggled from the double blow of significant capital and operating losses caused by Hurricane Sandy, and heightened need for services among patients affected by the storm and its aftermath. The grant will cover medical equipment and supplies, generators, mobile medical unit operations, and revenue losses resulting from closure after the storm.

The grants reflect the strong consensus advice from a February meeting convened by Direct Relief and NACHC and attended by affected nonprofit safety-net health facilities, statewide health center associations, and both regional and federal government emergency and health officials to discuss the best use of private charitable funds to repair the healthcare safety net following the storm.

The meeting and a series of post-Sandy reviews have documented the critical role health centers play in their communities after emergencies as “first receivers”, the importance of mobile medical vans, the long-term effect of diminished capacity stemming from lost-operating-revenue-prompted cutbacks, and difficulties accessing public funding from state and federal sources.

Health centers in New York and New Jersey documented more than $25 million in losses, yet, perhaps due to their intense locally-focused activities in medically underserved communities, to date they have received only very limited private charitable support following the storm.

 

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