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For any additional questions about republishing Direct Relief content, please email the team here.

With the Fires Contained in Many Areas, Medical Needs Remain in Maui

Health concerns, including unmanaged chronic diseases, are at the top of the list for health providers.


Hawaii Fires

Damage seen on Maui after catastrophic, wind-driven fires swept through the area. (Brea Burkholz/Direct Relief)

The impact of the deadly wind-driven fires on Maui is coming into heartbreaking focus this week as the search and recovery efforts continue. About 27 percent of the impacted area has been searched, according to officials, and the death toll rose officially to 106 people this week.

Thousands remain displaced from their homes on the island, and though the fires are moving towards full containment, health risks remain, beyond burns and injuries from the initial blaze.

Health providers on the island are working to keep people out of medical crisis and connected with medications needed to manage chronic diseases, like diabetes and high blood pressure.

A stream of medical aid aimed at those needs has been pulsed out of Direct Relief’s warehouse since last week, and Direct Relief’s Director of Pharmacy and Clinical Affairs Alycia Clark has been coordinating with local medical providers to understand their needs and quickly ship them requested medications.

Disasters that displace people from their homes often interrupt access to medications needed to manage their health, and Clark said that the primary requests from health providers continue to be respiratory medications, insulin, and antibiotics.

“The goal is to complement the work of providers and officials on the ground by providing essential medications and supplies that may be in short supply due to the nature of the disaster, and to prevent emergency room visits when services are overwhelmed, and transportation barriers may be present,” Clark said.

In response to the devastating fires in Maui, Clark said that Direct Relief is sending products to address the main health issues that commonly arise during fires and mass evacuations. Those include inhalers, nebulizer solutions, and masks for respiratory irritation and to control asthma. Irrigation solutions and antibiotics for dermal and ophthalmic injuries, analgesics for pain from minor injuries and headaches are also included, as well as wound care items for cuts, sprains, and strains, and personal care items, including soap and toothpaste for displaced individuals in shelters.

Clark said that her team has also been in contact with various associations about specific medical needs, including the American Society of Nephrology, Hawai’ian Medical Association, Society of Critical Care Medicine, as well as individual providers and heads of hospitals, to assess what patients may be needing.

Certain types of insulin are temperature-sensitive and require consistent temperatures while in transit, and Direct Relief shipped requested amounts of insulin this week to Malama I Ke Ola Health Center (Community Clinic of Maui) via cold shippers. The clinic also received inhalers, diabetes medications, cardiovascular treatments, anti-infectives, and other requested medications.

Since the fires broke out, Direct Relief has sent over 2,500 lbs. of specifically requested medicines and supplies to address health concerns commonly arising during fires and mass evacuations. These shipments support the relief efforts of four organizations:

  • Community Clinic of Maui (Malama I Ke Ola Health Center)
  • Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawai’i
  • Maui Search and Rescue
  • Hawai’i Island Community Health Center

In addition to medical support, Direct Relief is immediately disbursing $200,000 into four $50,000 grants to help fund operations by local medical responders.

  • Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawai’i
  • Malama I Ke Ola Health Center (Community Clinic of Maui)
  • Maui Search and Rescue
  • Hui No Ke Ola Pono (Native Hawai’ian Health Center)

The organization will continue responding to needs throughout the immediate, near-term and long-term phases of the recovery.

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