Direct Relief is providing 478 clinics in 49 states with needed H1N1 protective items to help clinic workers stay healthy and on the job through flu season. This morning, staff at Direct Relief’s 60,000 square-foot headquarters and warehouse will complete the packing of nearly 500 large cartons of supplies weighing approximately five tons.
Friday’s shipments, to be delivered for free by longtime supporter FedEx, contain 20,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and 36,000 bars of soap. These basic but important items help keep clinical staff healthy throughout the flu season, allowing clinics to use their limited resources on other priorities. See a CNN iReport
This is the first of a series of cold and flu season distributions helping support the safety net clinics this winter. Future shipments will be focused on supplies for patients presenting with cold and flu symptoms, including over-the-counter cough and cold medicines appropriate for patients with seasonal colds and flu.
This support was prompted by a nationwide survey conducted by Direct Relief that showed that 80 percent of clinics and health centers have less than a one-month supply of key Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like hand sanitizer, gowns, goggles, and masks, which are needed to protect staff from infection. The survey represented over 30,000 healthcare workers who treat over 4 million patients annually.
“We surveyed our clinic partners on the educated ‘hunch’ that they are already hard pressed and would not have the resources to have built up the recommended stockpiles for an H1N1 surge,” said Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief’s president and CEO. Survey participants included nonprofit federally qualified health centers, free clinics, and unaffiliated nonprofit community health centers.
Community health centers and clinics treat the most vulnerable patients on a daily basis and become first responders when medical emergencies and natural disasters strike. Safety-net clinics and health centers provide quality care at little or no cost to patients, a significant percentage of who are uninsured and earn less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line.