By Amy Simmons Farber & Mollie Mellborne
Though newspaper headlines are focused on the election, our thoughts remain with the people and communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. We are still waiting for information about our health center friends and family in the path of the massive storm — but here is what we know so far:
In New Jersey, health centers have been affected by power outages and/or flooding — we’re still trying to pin down specifics. In New York’s Lower East Side, William F. Ryan – NENA Community Health Center was among the health centers struggling to stay open, despite challenges with power outages. “All our sites are in the community and people come to us. – not just for medical care, but also just for help,” Executive Director, Kathy Gruber, told Direct Relief. “Even though we knew the hurricane was coming, we decided to be open for the community as long as we could.”
Up to date information is still hard to come by because of power and communications outages, which are still an issue, even as the recovery begins. NACHC has communicated with our disaster relief partners and thank them for their quick action and support. AmeriCares has sent a mobile health unit to Beacon Christian Community Health Center in Staten Island, NY to help the staff provide continuity of care regardless of whether the power is on or off.
Direct Relief is reaching out to health centers in New York and New Jersey. The organization has already delivered a two-part emergency Fed Ex shipment of emergency supplies to an estimated 500 patients at the William F. Ryan Center. The shipment includes Abbott nutritional supplies as well as 350 personal care packs, filled with basic hygiene items provided by Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena and Prestige Brands. Many of the patient said they have not been able to make food at home or keep food properly refrigerated and thus were in critical need of ready-to-eat nutritional supplements such as the PediaSure and PediaLyte for children, and Ensure and Zone bars for adults.
NACHC is also working to support the state Primary Care Associations in their efforts to assist affected health centers. PCA staff have worked diligently to assess impact on health centers, provide guidance, and link health centers with local resources.
We’re still trying to find out more from other affected areas and will post again once we know more.