Twenty-six nonprofit health centers in Hurricane Sandy-affected areas of New York and New Jersey learned today that they would receive cash grants — collectively totaling $1,500,000 — to boost recovery efforts and continue providing essential primary health services for residents in their local communities.
The grants were announced by Direct Relief and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), which joined together following the devastating storm and created a Sandy Safety Net Fund to pool and direct private charitable contributions to support the patients and nonprofit health centers and clinics that were severely affected by the storm.
These nonprofit facilities receiving grants serve as the main point of access to primary and preventive health services for over 700,000 low-income and uninsured people in the hurricane-devastated areas of New York and New Jersey, a critical safety-net role intensified by Sandy and since.
“Hurricane Sandy demonstrated again that local nonprofit clinics and health centers play an unheralded but indispensable role every day, but particularly so during emergencies — since their patients typically are among those most vulnerable in emergencies but also have the least cushion to absorb and most difficulty bouncing back from them,” said Thomas Tighe, President and CEO of Direct Relief.
The emergency cash grants will bring welcome relief for many facilities that have 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 grants will cover medical equipment and supplies, generators, mobile medical unit operations, and revenue losses resulting from closure after the storm.
“We are extremely pleased to receive the award and will use it to continue our mission of helping our patients regardless of their ability to pay,” said Sandra Adams, Executive Director of Eric B. Chandler Health Center in New Jersey.
The grants announced today 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.
“Community Health Centers have a long tradition of directing help where it is most needed in the wake of disasters and public health emergencies when, all too often, the hardest hit are people who are chronically ill and uninsured,” said Malvise A. Scott, Senior Vice President for Partnership and Resource Development at NACHC.
“We are grateful that these grants can be made available to recognize and support the critical role that health centers play in meeting the needs of their communities.”
Direct Relief is the only U.S. nonprofit organization licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 states and runs the country’s largest nonprofit charitable medicines program, providing donations of medications and supplies to serve low-income, uninsured patients at more than 1,000 nonprofit health centers and clinics on an ongoing basis and in emergency situations.
In addition to its ongoing support activities, since Hurricane Sandy the organization has provided $250,000 in direct financial support and delivered 75 shipments of medications and supplies valued at $2.1 million to 31 health centers and clinics in the hardest hit areas in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
“We are so thankful for the generosity of people and companies who provided Sandy contributions that have been put directly into Sandy-affected communities in this deeply consequential way,” said Tighe.
“Many more compelling needs exist than our funding could cover, so we created a clear, efficient channel to help inform any additional philanthropic resources that may have been waiting for the dust to settle.”
NACHC and Direct Relief have worked together on a series of initiatives since Hurricane Katrina to mobilize private charitable resources for emergency preparedness and response activities to benefit the patients of nonprofit safety-net health centers and clinics.