Direct Relief today announced the creation of the Hurricane Community Health Fund, a collaboration among the Texas Association of Community Health Centers (TACHC), the Florida Association of Community Health Centers (FACHC), the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), and the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) and Direct Relief, which will manage the fund.
The fund will be used solely for the benefit of hurricane-affected communities and people – particularly those who have low incomes, lack insurance, and are among the most vulnerable residents – and will be directed to community health centers and free and charitable clinics in Texas and Florida.
Nationwide, nonprofit community health centers provide access to high-quality, affordable healthcare to more than 27 million people – 1 in 12 in America, and 1 in 3 persons without insurance – through a vast network of 10,000 clinical sites run by over 1,300 local organizations in medically underserved areas. America’s 1,200 free and charitable clinics see 1.8 million people through 6 million patient visits annually.
“The typically low public profile of America’s nonprofit health centers and clinics belies that they are the healthcare safety net for millions of people every day, including in the communities slammed by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “Across Texas and Florida, their medical staffs deployed to shelters, are caring today for thousands of displaced residents – this fund is to support them as they continue to play this critical role in tough days ahead across Texas and Florida.”
“As our health centers begin the long road to recovery from these catastrophic storms, the Hurricane Community Health Fund is an inspiring example of the collaboration and unity that truly helps us cope with disasters of this magnitude,” said José E. Camacho, TACHC Executive Director. “We are incredibly grateful for Direct Relief ’s generous assistance.”
“Direct Relief has worked closely with the Florida Association of Community Health Centers for almost 10 years, providing significant assistance in our efforts to deliver health care to all people. For these years, Direct Relief has provided Florida’s FQHCs with over $25 million worth of critical medical supplies and other essentials in their effort to assist our centers all across the state,” said Andrew Behrman, FACHC President and CEO. “The value of their partnership with us and our centers during this very difficult time cannot be overstated.”
“Health centers are courageously responding to the overwhelming health care needs of residents impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” said Tom Van Coverden, President and CEO of NACHC. “We are hearing incredible stories from the field about health centers reaching out with mobile clinics, or in flooded areas, to dispense medicines, hygiene kits and needed treatment. We are grateful to Direct Relief for the creation of the Hurricane Community Health Fund to support health centers in this work. Funding could not come at a more critical time as health centers confront a major funding cut that will imperil services unless Congress acts by the end of this month.”
“The NAFC is honored to have been selected as one of the recipients of Direct Relief’s Hurricane Community Health Fund,” said Nicole Lamoureux, NAFC CEO. “Daily and in the face of disasters, free and charitable clinics are among the first healthcare responders in communities. This funding is critical to help our member organizations who have been affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to rebuild, recover lost supplies and medication and allow them to focus on providing care to their patients. We are thankful for our continued partnership with Direct Relief and for their commitment to helping us build a healthier America, one person at a time.”
Direct Relief has a perfect 100 score from Charity Navigator, including ratings of 100 in the “Financial” and “Accountability & Transparency” categories, and already works extensively on an ongoing basis and during emergencies with health centers and clinics in Texas and Florida, as well as in every other U.S. state and territory. As of Sept. 14, 2017, Direct Relief has delivered more than $4.6 million in medical assistance, weighing over 49,000 pounds, to 40 health center and clinic recipients following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and made an initial cash allocation of $500,000 for health centers and free and charitable clinics in Texas.
Direct Relief is the largest source of private support for Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (FQHCs), providing donations of medications and medical supplies from healthcare companies for the benefit of patients with low incomes and without insurance. The organization also manages a program funded by BD and with NACHC as a partner that annually awards innovations in community health approaches, care, and service delivery and has also established a new “Continuity in Care” multi-year grant program with the NAFC. Direct Relief delivered $362 million (wholesale) of medicines and medical supplies to community health centers and free and charitable clinics between 2013 and 2016.
Money donated to the Hurricane Community Health Fund will be used for immediate, emergency-related capital and expenses related to relief activities not otherwise covered; intermediate-term expenses to ensure that health centers and clinics are able to maintain and expand services as needed; and longer-term (up to 18 months) expenses to ensure financial stability is not jeopardized for these critically important, community-based sources of care.
Expenditures from the fund, including transfer of funds to partner nonprofit organizations or their members, will be reported in detail every six months. The partners will develop a mutually agreed upon reporting mechanism to ensure transparency, activities, and results. Funds may be used to help persons displaced by the hurricanes who are receiving care outside of the geographic area affected by the storms.
The structure of the new fund is similar to a fund Direct Relief established after 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. The fund, which collected and disbursed $2 million, was used to help community health centers in New York and New Jersey recover.
Specific examples of expenses already incurred and those anticipated:
• Necessary repairs for storm-related physical damage to clinic/health center structure that are unreimbursed and related insurance deductibles
• Damage/loss of capital equipment within facilities
• Emergency purchases of medications, supplies, and other essentials and inventories incurred by health centers and clinics to provide emergency services, including at shelters, in mobile units, and otherwise outside of facility
• Operating expenses (any current or new staff, gas for mobile units, etc.) incurred for emergency operations related to storm, including in mobile units
• Operating losses caused by storm-forced closures
• Staff costs associated with emergency services and closures caused by storms
• Patient care for uninsured patients in affected areas and for patients evacuated to other areas that patients are unable to pay for and is not otherwise reimbursable
• Emergency outreach, clinical care (such as tetanus vaccination campaigns, patient transport) and referrals for emergency care
• Insurance coverage for visiting volunteer medical staff
• Purchase of new mobile units to provide services in areas where need for services is identified
• Outfitting existing replacement costs equipment/supplies used during response efforts
• Maintenance – beyond planned costs, dedicated to Hurricane response efforts
Longer-term (up to 18 months):
• Generator – new purchase, hook-ups, fuel, etc.
• Staffing, training, or planning resources – consultant fees, training and preparation costs, preparedness resources
About Direct Relief: Founded in 1948, Direct Relief is a California-based nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian medical aid in all 50 states and more than 80 countries, with a stated mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergency situations. Among other distinctions, Direct Relief has been named among the world’s ten most innovative nonprofits by Fast Company, received the CECP Directors’ Award, the President’s Award from Esri for Excellence in GIS mapping, and the Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation. Of the more than 8,000 charities rated by Charity Navigator, Direct Relief is one of only 49 to receive a perfect overall score of 100. Direct Relief has worked closely with NACHC, NAFC and their members since 2005 and has delivered more than $650 million (wholesale) in support to over 1,300 facilities.