October 11, 2018 - Less than a month since Hurricane Florence struck the Carolinas and brought unprecedented rainfall and flooding, major Hurricane Michael seemingly exploded out of nowhere and bulldozed the Florida panhandle. As we speak, Michael continues trekking through the Southeast, now bringing torrential rains and tropical storm force winds to many of the same regions which Florence impacted, posing the first real test of their post-Florence resilience.
In these areas, we saw Florence bring many challenges which stemmed from floodwaters inundating infrastructure, destroying access to electricity, and making roads all but impassable. Healthcare Ready supported our partners in a myriad of ways, from coordinating the movement of dialysis patients to treatment centers to procuring supplies and hygiene kits for thousands in area shelters. A question now lingers regarding just how much these areas have been able to recover, and how vulnerable they may still be as Michael moves through.
Like many of our colleagues across government agencies and the private and non-governmental sectors, Healthcare Ready shifted into a state of activation late Monday night as a US landfall by Hurricane Michael became all but certain. Much like with the Florence preparation, we witnessed firsthand key lessons learned from previous disasters being applied to help mitigate impacts. Similarly to the governors in the Carolinas last month, Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday signed pre-landfall State of Emergency declarations for 35 counties in the state of Florida. This declaration recruits federal assistance in the form of resources, personnel, and funding. With Michael, we again see steps taken to help protect citizens and infrastructure, such as Medicaid reimbursement and prior authorization waivers, emergency prescription refill availability, and waivers for shipping and re-entry into affected zones.
For our part, Healthcare Ready again turned on our Rx Open map, connecting patients in affected areas with a resource for viewing the operational status of nearby pharmacies and locating a place to get their critical medications. We continue to support our partners in critical infrastructure, healthcare and health supply chain, and emergency management in their endeavors to keep patients connected to the life-saving medications and care that they need.
The path to preparedness is long and at times it may seem that the path to recovery is even longer. The fact that five days ago the tropical depression which would become Michael – now the third-strongest hurricane to ever landfall in the US – was only forecast to reach tropical storm status, underscores the unpredictability and swiftness with which disaster can strike. Healthcare Ready stands with our partners and those affected to continue our mission of safeguarding patient health and building cross-sectoral, community-wide resilience.
For more information, or if you or somebody you know is affected by this storm and needs assistance, please contact us at 1-866-247-2694 or by email. To view resources and information, visit our Hurricane Michael page. For important updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Use our Rx Open tool to check the status of a nearby pharmacy. Visit http://www.HealthcareReady.org/Michael/meds to check state by state emergency prescription refill information and view insurance assistance resources.