As the wide-ranging effects of the Midwest tornadoes continue to be assessed, Direct Relief today committed an initial $100,000 and its entire $30 million stockpile of available medical inventories to support medical relief and recovery efforts in communities affected by the storms that hit Oklahoma over the last two days and that continue to threaten millions of people in the central United States.
Direct Relief is the only nonprofit licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 U.S. states. In the past year alone, Direct Relief has delivered 5,000 shipments to its network of more than 1,000 nonprofit clinics and health centers nationwide, which includes a massive response effort for Superstorm Sandy. The organization runs the largest nonprofit program in the U.S. providing free medications and supplies to health centers treating low-income patients without insurance.
In the near-term, the health needs of people who lost their homes are serious, particularly for people managing chronic health conditions like diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. These conditions can quickly become life-threatening for people without access to their medications. Direct Relief is readying emergency relief shipments of medicines, medical supplies, personal care and hygiene items, and nutritional products to support the local nonprofit health care providers on the ground caring for the injured and sick in Oklahoma.
“Direct Relief is acutely sensitive to the needs of those who are most vulnerable in emergency situations. We are working closely with health care company supporters and partner nonprofit clinics and health centers in the affected areas that serve people who are vulnerable every day to understand what is needed and mobilize charitable resources to help address those needs,” said President and CEO, Thomas Tighe.
Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the organization has run an extensive emergency preparedness program that pre-positions medical essentials in nonprofit clinics in disaster-prone areas of the United States. After the tornadoes that devastated Joplin, Missouri, two years ago tomorrow, Direct Relief purchased a mobile medical unit to be used to help care for people in emergencies. The mobile medical unit will be deployed to help in Oklahoma and is equipped with Direct Relief-furnished medical supplies.
Direct Relief’s Emergency Response Team is also benefitting from extensive operational support from Palo Alto-based technology company, Palantir, which has enabled multiple streams of information to be organized, visualized, and analyzed to provide situational assessments and inform planning and response.
“The initial $100,000 commitment is being made because we understand that financial pressures hit nonprofit clinics and health centers and their patients particularly hard – they both typically have very little if any financial cushion to fall back on,” said Tighe. “If we receive additional support for these U.S. storms, the funds will be spent exclusively for this purpose.”