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Hurricane Harvey Reminds Providers You Can Never Be Too Prepared

From the VGM Legislative Team

We ask that everyone take a moment for thoughts and prayers for those in the path of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. The National Hurricane Center has predicted that Harvey could become a Category 3 hurricane by this evening, which would be the first hurricane to hit Texas in nearly a decade. Areas along the border all the way up to Austin and further north expect extremely heavy rainfall and extreme winds, up to 30 inches and 86 mph in some areas. These severe storms are stark reminders of the importance of a proper emergency preparedness policy and frequent review.

No matter what the emergency might be, it is crucial to have a plan ready to call patients to check on oxygen tank supply, charging batteries for equipment in case of power outage, a proper supply of formula and medications, being just a few. For those in the path of Harvey, as you continue to notify patients, deliver proper supplies, protect your store, and protect your families as best you can, know that the HME community has your back. If there is anything VGM can do, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask.

For providers in other areas of the country, we encourage you to review and run through scenarios in your emergency plans. Natural disasters, whether they be hurricanes, floods, blizzards, tornadoes, or earthquakes can strike with little to zero notice. Ensure that your patients remain safe by being properly prepared by having the most detailed plans possible.

VGM sat down with Tyler Riddle, VP of MRS Homecare in Southern Georgia last October, and he offered his advice for a strong emergency plan. Click here to view the article for Tyler’s advice.

These types of storms and natural disasters also speak to the importance of maintaining a strong, local provider base. As health care models are being tried that rely on postal trucks, these types of events illustrate how flawed those models are. When disaster strikes, independent providers are the most reliable source of care, not the postal service. As this industry continues to lose more and more providers, patients will struggle to find care, especially when it comes to a natural disaster situation, which shuts down cities.

Javier Vera from Travis Medical in Corpus Christi, Texas, has left no stone unturned. For the past week he and his staff have been preparing his patients and storefront to minimize the risk and dangers to their patients. Among coordinating delivery vans with supplies and tanks, working with the local emergency management, reaching out to other providers and much more, his patients who have stayed will have the best care possible in this storm. Something easily overlooked is the employee procedures if communications go down, determining when it is safe for employees to go out to care for patients, and more.

The distribution of supplies and care must be taken very seriously when it comes to patient access to care. Greg Packer, president of U.S. Rehab, has created a white paper that outlines why these independent delivery models are so important. Click here to read Packer’s white paper.

If you are interested in helping those in the path of Hurricane Harvey, you can donate to the American Red Cross by clicking here. Under the “I Want to Support” tab, select Hurricane Harvey and donate any amount. 

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