Community Resilience Endures Through Natural Disasters

Community Resilience Endures Through Natural Disasters

October 27th, 2017

Relief efforts have risen to unprecedented levels in response to this year’s record-breaking hurricane season. While much attention has been paid to national emergency response efforts, local, community-based organizations have an absolutely essential role. We’ve been able to witness and assist with a number of these efforts from our position as a national non-profit focused on protecting communities. By operating a ‘layer up,’ we’ve been able to assist community organizations by connecting them to resources and helping forge beneficial partnerships.

From coordinating evacuations to developing community-specific resources, local community efforts continue to make a measurable impact across affected areas. The community-based organizations we’ve worked with take many different forms, from the local or regional branch office of a national company to small non-profits working directly with patients.

A few highlights of the meaningful work in which Healthcare Ready has been engaged in with groups on the ground are highlighted below.

Hurricane Maria

  • A local consulting organization in Puerto Rico, Impactivo, is leading efforts to develop public health education materials and conducting extensive outreach. Healthcare Ready is helping to amplify Impactivo’s resources and working with the organization to develop mid- to long-term recovery strategies for public health concerns.
  • Centene worked with a local health insurance plan in Georgia to deliver wraparound healthcare services to patients evacuated from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands during the immediate aftermath of Maria. After learning that evacuated dialysis patients would need sustained assistance, Healthcare Ready reached out to Centene for near-term assistance. Centene’s local offices went above and beyond, securing assistance for patients to remain in Georgia for months and receive care through this community-partnership effort.
  • A local physician network in Puerto Rico gathered and addressed needs that were not rising to the federal level. The physician network set up makeshift clinics in pharmacies and routinely gauged the medical supply needs of Puerto Rico’s hospitals. Healthcare Ready was able to collect, verify, and share these on-the-ground needs with private sector and NGO partners able to fill these time-sensitive needs.

Hurricane Irma

  • Pharmacy partners in Florida, including regional Walgreens, Publix, CVS, and Walmart were instrumental in meeting the needs of patients evacuated to other parts of the state and needed refills. Healthcare Ready received dozens of calls and emails from patients looking for assistance in replacing medicine or assistance with paying for their prescription. Regional managers and community pharmacists at these chains and independent pharmacies were quickly with us to identify which pharmacies had the medicine patients needed, and many donated the medicines when needed.
  • We facilitated a partnership between Americares and Uber to that allowed for patients to receive free rides to and from healthcare facilities using a beta version of Uber’s patient transportation platform.

Hurricane Harvey

  • Texas CVS Pharmacy stores served as community-based shelters and resource centers for medicine and medical supplies, particularly for many crucial emergency scenarios. For example, Healthcare Ready worked with CVS to connect an HIV patient with medicine within 24 hours as well as to help another patient urgently replace their nebulizer.
  • Envolve Health coordinated a mobile vision care unit to support the mega-shelters and community health clinics in the affected areas in Texas. Additionally, we worked with Envolve to connect community healthcare clinics with behavioral health specialist, who provided free services on rotation for weeks in the aftermath of Harvey.
  • Local members from Team Rubicon, the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER), and Healthcare Ready teamed up to identify dialysis patients trapped and in need of transport. Healthcare Ready and KCER staff identified patients, then relayed their location and needs to Team Rubicon in order to get dozens of patients the care they needed.

Our work at the community-level over the past two months has underscored the notion that community-based efforts – and the resilience of the people behind them – are truly the bedrock of disaster readiness and emergency response.

Nicolette Louissaint, Ph.D.

Dr. Nicolette A. Louissaint is the Executive Director of Healthcare Ready. Prior to this position, Nicolette served as the organization's Director of Programming. Before joining Healthcare Ready Nicolette served as a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. During the height of the Ebola Epidemic of 2014, Nicolette served as the Senior Advisor to the State Department’s Special Coordinator for Ebola. Nicolette earned a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, specializing in HIV Clinical Pharmacology from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She completed post-doctoral fellowships at the Johns Hopkins University and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.