“There When the Community Needed Them Most”

Credit: Cabin Creek Health Center

While some people have “emergency response” somewhere in their job description, the role of responding to emergencies falls most often to those who do not.

They’re teachers, office workers, day laborers, dog walkers, doctors, and nurses – anyone who, in a time of crisis, steps up to help their friends, family, neighbors, and community.

A recent example is illustrated below in an internal staff email forwarded to Direct Relief, from the Director of Education and Program at Cabin Creek Health Systems in response to last month’s devastating flooding in West Virginia:

It’s been a week now since flooding devastated parts of West Virginia, including the town of Clendenin where we have a health center.  As previously reported, we have staff members who have lost their homes, their vehicles, and personal belongings.

It would be hard to find someone on our staff of over 130 who didn’t know someone impacted – family, friends, co-worker, etc.

This past week, our focus has been on the Clendenin Health Center and what we can do to help the community.  We were extremely fortunate that the health center did not take on water.

For those of you that have not had the opportunity to visit, the health center is on the 2nd floor of the old Clendenin Middle School.  During the flood, the entire first floor of the building was submerged, and that’s where all of the electrical panels, water system, elevator machine room, fire alarm system for the entire building are located – more on that later.

On Monday, immediately after the flooding, Clendenin providers saw patients at the Kanawha City and Sissonville Health Centers.  Staff members not impacted by the flooding worked in the basement of Kanawha City, but it became quite clear by mid-morning on Monday that everyone was ready to get back to town to assist the patients and the community any way they could. 

That Tuesday, while not in the current space, the Clendenin Health Center was operational again in two locations – tents were set up in the parking lot beside the health center and the parking lot across from the Dollar General in town. 

Services provided by the team included vaccinations for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, prescribing medications lost in the flood and for people needing refills, urgent medical care, behavioral health services, and home visits.

Staff members pulled on their muck boots and came to work on Tuesday in pop-up tents.

The job of providing care in the field became a little easier on Wednesday when CCHS was able to borrow FamilyCare’s mobile medical unit. This mobile unit, which includes one exam room, is now parked beside of the health center.

By Friday evening, after a very tiring week, the Clendenin Health Center staff had provided 1,437 tetanus vaccinations, conducted numerous team (nursing, behavioral health, medical) home visits, assisted patients who had lost their prescriptions in the flood, sutured wounds and treated other injuries.

I want to end this email by saying thanks:

Thanks to the staff who were stuck at the health center during the flood and remained calm in the face of adversity.  These individuals helped to manage patients who also were stuck. They helped evacuate seniors from their first-floor apartments, were a source of comfort to the seniors that remained on the 3rd floor and, in their spare time, developed an addendum to the disaster manual.

Thanks to our on-call providers who have had to deal with an influx of after-hours calls – patients who needed medication because of the flood or just had general medical questions.

Thanks to the Kanawha City and Clendenin Pharmacy staff.  Combining the operations of two relatively busy pharmacies in one space, adding a natural disaster in which a lot of medication was destroyed, and having two different pharmacy software systems will make for a long week.  But by the end of the day on Friday, everyone who needed medication had received it.

Thanks to the Cabin Creek Health Center staff for answering the Clendenin Health Center phones.

Thanks to the providers who offered to work this past weekend so that our temporary set up of health services could remain operational.  We very much appreciated the offer, but it was determined that providing services over the weekend wasn’t necessary.

Thanks to IT for moving the Clendenin Pharmacy server to Kanawha City so that the pharmacy could have access to patient data and setting up the operations center in the basement.

Thanks to ALL sites for working to connect patients with needed resources.

Thanks to the Kanawha City and Sissonville staff for welcoming the Clendenin provider care teams to their sites.  We realize more providers, means fewer exam rooms, so your patience this week and in the weeks to come is very much appreciated.

And finally, thanks to the entire Clendenin team – for putting on their boots, coming to work and providing much-needed care and support to the community when the community needed them most.

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