Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have displaced millions of people, including patients that need regular access to necessary treatments and therapies.
“Patients struggle to get access to the care they need during the best of times,” explains Terry Wilcox, executive director of Patients Rising. “When natural disasters strike, the challenge to access the right treatment becomes even greater.”
Thankfully, during this time of great need, our community has answered the call and delivered critical support to patients. Check out some of the programs and services available to patients affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and learn how health care professionals and organizations are helping those in need.
First responders and emergency personnel appropriately get credit for their heroism and selfless actions during natural disasters. While everyone else is evacuating, police, firefighters, paramedics, emergency response units and members of the national guard are coordinating evacuation plans.
Medical professionals, who continue to staff hospitals and emergency rooms are often overlooked.
“The unsung heroes in this disaster are our nurses, our lab techs, our pharmacy techs, our food services, our security who kept [everyone] safe,” Dr. Karen Lu, a professor of gynecologic oncology and interim chief medical officer at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, reminded National Public Radio. “We had 528 patients who were in the hospital on Sunday morning and probably another couple hundred family members. We were really able to care for these very sick individuals. There was no compromise in our ability to care for them.”
— Karen Lu (@karenluMD) August 27, 2017
Patients affected by the recent hurricanes are often forced to flee their homes with little or no notice. That can mean a reduced supply of necessary prescriptions to manage their disease or condition.
Pfizer is offering assistance to patients that need immediate access to their medicine. The company has implemented its disaster relief protocols at Pfizer RxPathways, a service that connects patients to the Pfizer assistance programs that may be right for them.
“If a medicine provided through the Pfizer Patient Assistance Program has been destroyed or lost, or patients who are enrolled are unable to reach their doctors’ offices and need their medicine shipped to an alternate location, we can help,” explains Janet McUlsky, a senior director at Pfizer. “Additionally, if new patients urgently need a Pfizer medicine but have been displaced and are unable to access income documentation and other paperwork needed for enrollment into the Pfizer Patient Assistance Program, we are able to waive these requirements so that patients can receive their medication as quickly as possible.”
If you or a loved one needs assistance, Pfizer RxPathways is just a phone call away. Medicine access counselors are ready to help: call toll-free at 1-844-989-PATH (7284), Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm ET.
— Patients Rising (@patientsrising) August 31, 2017
In response to Hurricane Harvey, major corporations announced major charitable contributions for relief efforts. Amgen was among the first corporations to provide assistance with a six-figure pledge of support for patients, including direct help for dialysis patients impacted by Harvey.
Then, when Hurricane Irma hit Florida, the Amgen Foundation more than doubled its financial support — contributing a total of $250,000 to help deliver critical medicines and supplies to health facilities in Puerto Rico, Florida and some Caribbean islands following Hurricane Irma.
In addition to the quarter million dollars of direct aid, the Amgen Foundation will match employee donations dollar for dollar under its staff matching program.
In advance of Hurricane Harvey, hospitals in Alabama and Tennesseeopened their doors to patients that had been evacuated from hospitals in Houston, Texas. The VA coordinated the transportation of patients from Houston to Birmingham. Firefighters from the San Antonio Fire Department helped evacuate 800 hospital patients from Houston.
The Commercial Appeal reports that an emergency medical response team from the Memphis VA Medical Center setup a command center at Memphis International Airport for patients airlifted from Houston. In turn, patients were transferred to Memphis-area hospitals, including the local VA hospital, St. Francis Hospital-Bartlett, the Delta Medical Center as well as the Baptist Memorial Health Care and Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare systems.
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