Hurricane Michael: An Activation in Progress

Hurricane Michael: An Activation in Progress

October 19, 2018

October 19, 2018 - Hurricane Michael made landfall last Wednesday morning as a Category 4 hurricane, making it the most powerful hurricane that the Florida panhandle has ever faced and the third strongest hurricane to ever hit Florida. By Friday, the storm had dissipated off the Atlantic Coast, having passed through Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, in areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence. This storm was different from Florence in that it did not waste time lingering over the initially impacted areas, causing torrential downpours and dangerous levels of flooding. Instead, Michael sped through about a thousand miles of land in a couple of days bringing some of the most destructive winds that the Southeast has ever seen. Michael wiped away entire homes and businesses in the Florida panhandle and other coastal communities.

Our hotline has been busy with patients looking for guidance on refilling their prescriptions in the wake of the hurricane. We have read and listened to some heartbreaking stories. Patients will mention almost in passing that their home has been destroyed, because before they can focus on how to recover from this loss, they must tend to more pressing health needs. Something as seemingly simple as trying to take a pill every day can feel like an insurmountable challenge during a disaster. Right now, there are countless Floridians without their necessary medications, often because they need to refill prescriptions for controlled substances with tight regulations. People in the panhandle have doctors and pharmacists who are dealing with the same structural damages as the rest of the community. If someone is displaced and cannot return to their home pharmacy or doctor’s office, they have to jump through hoops to get their meds.

Where Florence brought devastating flooding, Michael has brought devastating winds – winds just shy of Category 5 strength when the storm crashed into Florida. The healthcare supply chain was put under a different test. Our distributor partners, at AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson worked tirelessly to ensure that critical deliveries of medical supplies were not disrupted during the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, and they have been doing so successfully. In turn, the public health response has focused more on supporting shelters that at one point were holding thousands of displaced citizens that no longer had homes, let alone access to their neighborhood. Not only that, we are focusing on the multiple impacted clinics and pharmacies that have lost portions of their inventories along with the facilities that have suffered structural damages that might prevent them from operating for weeks.

We’ve worked day and night for over a week with our partners to meet these needs. Most recently, Optum Rx fulfilled a request we received for hundreds of doses of Naloxone for a shelter distribution center in Tallahassee, Florida. Late Saturday night, Uber offered to cover individual rides for a group of stranded patients in need of dialysis treatment at a facility over an hour away from their homes. At least three hospitals received full communications restorations from Sprint. Partners at Centene, BIO and PhRMA, amongst others, are standing by with generous offers, anxious to respond to whatever requests we throw their way. For that we are grateful for the many partnerships that fuel our mission, as well as the support of our members and supporters.

We have made several resources for patients and those supporting the healthcare system available on our Hurricane Michael emergency page and the accompanying Medications page. Rx Open provides pharmacy status and is activated for FL, GA, SC, NC, MS, AL, and VA. The Rx Open site also features a SAMHSA locator widget, that can be used to locate mental health facilities near you. If you need any additional support, please contact us or call our hotline at 1.866.247.2694. Our support team is activated and ready to help.

Kinaya Hardie

Kinaya is a program analyst for Healthcare Ready. Her work for the organization began with an internship focused on equity and community resilience, as Healthcare Ready supported the Baltimore Office of Sustainability with the update of the city's All-Hazards Mitigation Plan. Kinaya is excited to be continuing with Healthcare Ready, providing research and analysis support on more projects. Kinaya is a recent graduate of the Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience. She was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, specifically having resided in Prince George’s County for most of her life. During her undergraduate career at Hopkins, her extracurricular activities included working as a part of diversity-related organizations on the campus and participating in community service and activism in Baltimore. With her campus job, Kinaya contributed to the philanthropic efforts that funded financial aid and programming for the various Johns Hopkins schools and organizations. Kinaya has also worked as a research assistant at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the Caterina Lab, where she aided with a project on the molecular basis of neuropathic pain. She is excited to be a part of the Healthcare Ready team, as it allows her to dedicate time to spreading awareness of health issues, learning about the implications of disasters on vulnerable communities, and getting a taste of the industries outside of academia that incorporate the expertise and information gained by STEM research.