Every health center-based mobile medical unit in New York and New Jersey will soon be equipped with a Direct Relief Emergency Medical Pack as a result of insights gained following Hurricane Sandy.
Each of the 120 packs will be filled with the most critical items for emergency medicine and will help boost health centers’ capacity to respond to future disasters in their communities.
Modeled after Direct Relief’s Medical Reserve Corps pack program, these specially designed packs contain supplies and equipment to meet a variety of disaster-related health needs, including infection control, diagnostics, trauma care, and personal protection tools.
Having the packs on hand helps better prepare mobile units and health center staff for future disasters and will result in fewer disruptions in care for an already vulnerable population.
The ability to go to where the patient is located and provide care is a unique and essential service provided by health centers that is critical in times of need, when infrastructure damage or physical injuries make it harder for people to get to a health center.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, mobile medical units, operated by New York and New Jersey’s federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), played a key role in responding to the needs of people affected. These units, mandated by the Mayor’s Office, were dispatched to medically underserved communities in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and throughout New Jersey most damaged by the storm.
Staffed by health center physicians and nurses, the units were stocked with medications and supplies to care for people from the van. Additionally, health center staff went inside buildings to treat patients unable to transport themselves to receive care. Mobile medical units remained in these communities for months to continue to treat patients with no other healthcare resources.