Mary Casey-Lockyer is the Senior Associate for Disaster Health Services at the national headquarters of the American Red Cross and has served as a member of Healthcare Ready’s board since 2011.
Since joining Healthcare Ready’s board of directors 6 years ago, I have been able to witness the evolution of the organization from a unique vantage point. Originally founded as Rx Response, a coalition to help resolve challenges patients faced in accessing medicines during a crisis, over the years Healthcare Ready has positioned itself as a tremendously valuable partner to disaster preparedness and response organizations around the US, including the American Red Cross. Non-profits play an important role in disaster response and recovery, and Healthcare Ready truly fills a gap in the work it does coordinating public and private sector efforts, particularly as they relate to the supply chain.
One of the most persistent challenges disaster healthcare providers, including the Red Cross, face during a response is replacing prescription medication. The process for replacing prescriptions is not well outlined in response plans for a variety of reasons. Throughout the emergencies of the last decade Healthcare Ready has been instrumental in helping the Red Cross and others navigate this challenge in the provision of disaster health services by coordinating with and assisting pharmacies and reporting pharmacy status through Rx Open. Having a single point of contact with ties to pharmacies across the country and healthcare distributors has assisted the Red Cross’s efforts in many ways.
At the Red Cross, we need every support asset possible to maintain the health of our patients in disaster affected areas. The Red Cross relies on clinical and shelter settings to help maintain the health for patients. Having knowledge of supply chain operations is critical for us to sustain the health of patients in shelters and clinics during emergencies. Supply chain management is a crucial component of any disaster response effort and organizations need the supply chain to stay intact. Healthcare Ready’s knowledge of supply chain operations, through the organization’s close work with private industry, is critical during every disaster because healthcare hinges on the supply chain to ensure patients get the medications and supplies they need. In addition to their supply chain coordination, Healthcare Ready is able to share and disseminate the operating status of pharmacies in disaster impacted areas with their free online tool Rx Open. The Red Cross uses Rx Open to find nearby pharmacies to fill shelter needs, as well as to locate pharmacies to send patients to after they leave a shelter.
When not supporting disaster responses, Healthcare Ready’s position between sectors allows them to educate the public sector on private sector operations and vice versa. By doing this, they have been successful in bridging the gap between first responders, private sector groups, distributors, and healthcare facilities when a natural disaster strikes. In the disaster response and recovery field, it is extremely reassuring to have an NGO that is dedicated to working with the private sector. NGOs can interact with the private sector in a way that the public sector often cannot which proves valuable during disaster responses.
The past six years with Healthcare Ready have been fulfilling. Watching the growth of this dynamic organization has been a professional and personal joy. Looking forward, I am excited to continue to support the meaningful work of Healthcare Ready in 2018 and beyond in their mission of safeguarding health for all people.