Responding to the physical devastation and disruption of lives caused by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana and Mississippi, Direct Relief has committed an initial $1 million in financial resources and is making available its $100+ million inventories available for any medicine, medical supplies and other emergency aid center requested by health clinics, emergency shelters, and state and local emergency response agencies in affected areas.
On Sunday morning, Direct Relief sent an alert to 214 partners in Louisiana and Mississippi — Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and free clinics in both states — informing them that they are pre-approved to order emergency-specific medical resources free-of-charge from Direct Relief’s inventory. Available items include antibiotics, chronic disease medications, insulin, IV solutions, OTC medical products, and much more. On Monday, Direct Relief extended the offer to 85 partners in Tennessee and 73 contacts in eastern Texas.
Community health centers offer accessible, high-quality primary healthcare services to uninsured and medically underserved populations. The 39 FQHCs represented by the Louisiana Primary Care Association alone operate over 295 individual sites and serve over 465,000 patients a year.
“The full effects of Ida’s devastation remain to be seen, but the combination of the Hurricane, mass evacuations, loss of power, and the overhang of Covid obviously create significant health risks that require additional support to address,” said Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief President and CEO.
“Direct Relief has prepositioned medical caches throughout hurricane-prone Gulf states each year since Katrina to address this sort of situation – particularly with regard to resources for people with chronic medical conditions that can become very serious if unattended – but we’re in close touch with the longstanding community health center partner organizations in Louisiana and neighboring states to get them the help they need as fast as possible.”
As of Monday morning, more than 90% of residents were without power in Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish, the two most populous parishes (counties) struck by Hurricane Ida, according to utility data aggregated on poweroutage.us. When emergencies lead to loss of power electronic health records become inaccessible and spoilage occurs of insulin, vaccine, and other medications requiring cold storage.
Losing power is potentially life-threatening to people who rely on electrical-powered medical devices for breathing and other critical life functions. More than 5,900 people depend on powered medical devices in Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish.
Prior to the storm, Direct Relief had prepositioned 17 Hurricane Preparedness Packs with partner facilities in areas impacted by Ida. These 112-lb. modules contain the medical items most needed in the wake of a disaster, including trauma supplies, antibiotics, and medications for diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic conditions.
The supplies are made available through local health organizations serving communities most vulnerable to natural disasters. At the start of this year’s hurricane season, Direct Relief staged the emergency modules at health facilities in every Southeastern and Gulf Coast state from Virginia to Texas, as well as in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Saipan.