Direct Relief today announced it is providing $1.4 million in grants to 11 free health clinics in Southeast Texas, to help them recover from lingering damage from 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, make them more resilient to future severe storms, and increase their capacity to serve patients.
Direct Relief is distributing these grants from its Hurricane Community Health Fund, which was set up in the aftermath of 2017’s severe hurricanes to 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.
The cash grants, awarded in partnership with the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC), are the second installment of recovery grants provided to these clinics.
The Category 4 Hurricane Harvey struck the region in August 2017, dumping 40 to 60 inches of rain, displacing at least 30,000 people, and inflicting an estimated $125 billion in damage.
A survey conducted beginning two months after Harvey struck found that 66 percent of people in the affected region had experienced property damage or income loss from the storm. Three in 10 Harvey-affected residents (31 percent) said they had no usual place they go for care when they are sick, or that their usual source of care is a hospital emergency room. The survey, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation, also found that six in 10 of people with Harvey-related health conditions said they had postponed some type of medical or dental care.
The 70 free and charitable clinics that are members of the Texas Association of Charitable Clinics served 150,000 patients in 2018 through 421,000 patient visits. Their patients are the medically underserved who also were most likely to be impacted by the hurricane through loss of housing, transportation, jobs and neighborhood services.
In the city of Katy, Christ Clinic has more than doubled the annual number of patient visits per year since Hurricane Harvey, to 11,600 visits in 2018. Because wait times to see a provider stretched out to two to three weeks after the storm, it began offering walk-in visits, which now account for half its visits. The grant from Direct Relief will cover part of the salary of a new medical practitioner to help handle the patient load. It will also fund the use of a medical call center to handle the 200 incoming telephone calls per day, freeing up staff to work directly with patients.
At Houston’s Casa El Buen Samaritano, annual patient visits rose 38 percent in 2017 and a further 10 percent in 2018. With funding from Direct Relief, Casa El Buen Samaritano will repair the two trailers it operates from, which were heavily damaged by Harvey’s rain, and will create a storage room for medical supplies. The grant will also fund purchase of a diesel generator to provide emergency power and a larger-capacity vaccine refrigerator.
“Texas free and charitable clinics deployed their staff and resources immediately to care for those in shelters and in communities affected by Hurricane Harvey, and they haven’t stopped,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “These organizations are a critical part of the health safety net on an ongoing basis and during disasters, and this funding is to ensure they can continue to play this vital role providing care for people with few other options.”
“Directly after the storm, our clinics, at times putting their own needs to the side, immediately began helping people impacted by Harvey, said Jody Hopkins, Executive Director of the Texas Association of Charitable Clinics. “We soon learned that this was not a ‘temporary’ situation and the needs would be ongoing for years. The support from Direct Relief at the time of the storm and now, will be used to address these continuing issues at both our clinics and for their patients. It is a tremendous gift that will have such positive and lasting impacts – we are so grateful for Direct Relief.”
“The NAFC is proud to partner with Direct Relief to provide funding to Free and Charitable Clinics that were and continue to be impacted by the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. Recovery is a long process. Direct Relief makes it possible for us to support Texan clinics and their patients through that ongoing journey,” said Nicole Lamoureux, NAFC President & CEO. “This grant will help clinics repair damage, prepare for future storms, and provide much-needed primary, dental, and mental health care to those who faced great loss after this disaster.”
Grant recipients include:
– Casa El Buen Samaritano, Houston
– Christ Clinic, Katy
– Hands Together Family Health Center, Humble
– Ibn Sina Foundation, Houston
– PediPlace, Lewisville
– San José Clinic, Houston
– Smithville Community Clinic, Smithville
– Texas International Institute of Health Professions/VCare Clinics, Houston
– TOMAGWA HealthCare Ministries, Tomball
– Ubi Caritas, Beaumont
– United Health Partners, Houston