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Category: Response & Recovery

What Happens Next? Federal, State & Local Partners Work Together to Identify and Address Public Health and Social Services Needs in Texas following Hurricane Harvey

Author: CDR Betty Hastings,Texas Federal Health and Social Services Recovery Field Coordinator, Office of Emergency Management, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 12/26/2017 12:27:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

The response to Hurricane Harvey was rapid and robust. In the days and weeks after the storm, over 1,000 public health and medical responders deployed to protect residents’ health and save lives. HHS worked alongside state agencies, disaster relief organizations and other federal partners as part of the response.

But what happens now?  How can communities across Texas recover?

To answer these questions, state and local health and human services officials needed more information and a better understanding of the health and social services needs cre  Read more…

Keeping Facilities Open: Stabilizing and Restoring Puerto Rico’s Health Sector Following the Island’s Worst Hurricane Season Ever

Author: Laura Wolf and Steve Curren, Division of Resilience, Office of Emergency Management, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, HHS
Published Date: 12/14/2017 10:38:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery;

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) immediately deployed thousands of staff members and health care providers to Puerto Rico. Almost daily, the national media highlighted work HHS Disaster Medical Assistance Teams did to save lives. Less known are the activities and programs HHS put in place that went beyond direct patient care. Hundreds of personnel, from logistics experts to security personnel, worked behind the scenes to help restore Puerto Rico’s health sector. Their mission: to assist local hospitals, dialysis facilities,   Read more…

Filling the Gaps: Planning for the Disaster Health Needs of Patients Taking Opioids and People Using Illicit Drugs

Author: Rachel Kaul, Senior Policy Analyst, ASPR Office for At-Risk individuals, Behavioral Health and Community Resilience, and Frankie Catalfumo, MPH, Jr. Management Analyst with Aveshka, Inc. in support of the ASPR Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience
Published Date: 12/1/2017 10:17:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

When a disaster strikes public health and medical responders need to be ready to treat recreational users of opioids who are suffering from withdrawal, opioid patients who are in recovery, and patients who rely on opioids for pain management. Public health and health care professionals need to include the management of issues related to opioid use and addiction as part of their overall disaster preparedness, response and recovery plans.

Amid this year’s historic hurricane season, for example, some of the health care facilities, including opioid treatment centers, in the impa  Read more…

Local Students, DJ Help NDMS Connect and Communicate with Puerto Rico Communities

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 11/3/2017 5:57:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

In Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Hima-San Pablo Fajardo Hospital was severely damaged due to Hurricane Maria. Power was lost and the primary and acute care needs of patients in and around the community were not being met. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services immediately deployed several Disaster Medical Assistant Teams (DMAT) from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to the area. Setting up tents just outside HIMA-San Pablo Fajardo Hospital, the nurses, physicians, paramedics, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals immediately began providing services. Read more…

The Needs after A Disaster Are Many: Alabama DMAT Jumps into Action, Responding to Half Dozen Missions During 20 Day Deployment

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 11/3/2017 4:12:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

On September 27, a team of Gulf Coast medical personnel deployed to Puerto Rico as members of the National Disaster Medical System’s (NDMS) Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT). Although DMATs typically deploy for 14 days, the Alabama 3 DMAT stayed in Puerto Rico for 20 days and carried out a half dozen missions. The extended deployment saved many lives and forever changed the lives of those who received the care and those providing it.

Upon arrival, DMAT AL 3 was assigned to Ryder Memorial Hospital in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Their task was to set up a temporary medical si  Read more…

With Help from HHS More than 6,000 Dialysis Patients Get Life-Saving Treatment after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Published Date: 10/31/2017 9:57:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

Local Paramedic’s First Deployment is to Help Family, Friends, & Neighbors After Hurricane Maria: Now He Says, “I’m NDMS for Life!”

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 10/31/2017 5:06:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

Rafael Baucage has lived his entire life in Aguadilla, a community of 60,000 on the west coast of Puerto Rico that, before Hurricane Maria, was best known for its beautiful beaches and its very popular Parque Acuático Las Cascadas, the only aquatic theme park in the Caribbean.

Post Hurricane Maria, his beloved community is in shambles. Rafael’s’ home was located in the middle of the hardest hit area in Aguadilla. More than three feet of water seeped through the walls of his home, which he shares with his wife Maria and their 15-year-old twins.

On September 22, two day  Read more…

Dedication and Deployment: A Couple Chooses to Serve with NDMS

Author: Susan Wyatt
Published Date: 10/26/2017 5:18:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

Ever since we were fifteen, Don and I have loved to do things together. We even deploy together with the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS).

Providing care and restoring health services in Puerto Rico

Author: Robert Kadlec, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 10/19/2017 5:16:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

October 20 marks thirty days since Hurricane Maria barreled through Puerto Rico, stripping the lush forests of their leaves, limbs, and even bark and toppling utility poles like fallen dominoes in a line. Pictures can’t do justice to the damage. The devastation looked much like a war zone. Federal, territory and private sector partners steadily are making progress in restoring healthcare services to the island after the destruction wrought by the storm.

Initially, 100 percent of the island was without electrical power. Today, roughly 17 percent of the island has power and ma  Read more…

Scripts, Surge and Success: How One NDMS Pharmacist Helped Puerto Rican Pharmacists Provide Emergency Prescription Assistance

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 10/19/2017 12:13:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

When a Disaster Medical Assistance Team from South Carolina began seeing patients in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, it didn’t take long for the team members to realize that patients weren’t getting the lifesaving prescriptions they rely on to stay healthy every day or to fight infections in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

  Read more…

Open and Operational: NDMS Sets up Temporary Hospital to Provide Patient Care in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 10/18/2017 1:32:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

The halls of Hospital Buen Samaritano Calle Jose de Diego Aguadilla in Puerto Rico are quiet. The hospital was severely damaged during Hurricane Maria and only a few patients remain in the facility. However, there are still people in Aguadilla who need to be treated for everything from chronic conditions to the infections and injuries that are common in the wake of disasters.
  Read more…

From Cut-Off to Connected: HHS and the U.S. Army Work together to protect health in Utuado, Puerto Rico following a landslide

Author: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 10/7/2017 10:32:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery;

A small community near the town of Utuado, Puerto Rico has been hit by back-to-back disasters. First came Hurricane Irma, then Hurricane Maria, and then came the landslides that cut the community off from the rest of Puerto Rico. The 39 families who live there had no way to reach the outside. They were left without power or access to medical care.

Puerto Rican medical providers were worried. Nobody had heard from these people and there wasn’t a good way to reach them. The Puerto Rican medical providers, who were already working with partners from HHS and the U.S. Army, s  Read more…

Rapid Assessment Tools for Responders to Address Needs of Individuals Experiencing Homelessness during Disasters

Author: Cheryl A. Levine, Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst & Team Lead for At-Risk Individuals, ASPR’s Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience
Published Date: 9/19/2017 1:17:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; National Health Security;

Natural disasters and emergencies – such as hurricanes, flooding and other extreme weather conditions – create challenges and significantly impact communities. The recent destruction and devastation caused by this year’s hurricanes highlight concerns for the addressing the disaster needs of impacted populations.

Of special concern during these events are at-risk individuals – these include people with access and functional needs that may interfere with their ability to access or receive medical care before, during, or after a disaster or emergency. Under Read more…

Recovering from the Fourth Worst Disaster in U.S. History: Implications for Children’s Health in Recovery

Author: CDR Betty Hastings Louisiana Federal Health and Social Services Recovery Field Coordinator, Office of Emergency Management, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
Published Date: 8/23/2017 11:50:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Last year’s flooding in Louisiana ranked as the fourth worst disaster in U.S. history. Fifty-six of Louisiana’s 64 parishes were affected by major floods in 2016, and communities are still recovering with the help of an interagency federal response.

Child care centers and schools closed. The statistics related to children were staggering.

  Read more…

Whatever it takes: Medical Reserve Corps volunteers leverage eastern tradition to aid behavioral health after disasters

Author: Stacy Sayre, Region 8 Medical Reserve Corps Liaison and Rachelle Lambert, Licensed Acupuncturist and Unit Coordinator, Colorado Acupuncture Medical Reserve Corps
Published Date: 8/16/2017 9:41:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness; Innovations;

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, managers at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York asked the nearby Lincoln Recovery Center to provide respite and ear acupuncture treatment for staff and first responders impacted by the tragedy. Some of those treated reported that after treatment they slept better than they had in days or weeks.

Lincoln Recovery had developed an ear acupuncture treatment called the NADA protocol to assist substance abuse detoxification and recovery support in concert with other behavioral health interventions. The successful use of this techni  Read more…

When and how to help older people during and after disasters

Author: Cheryl A. Levine, Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst & Team Lead for At-Risk Individuals, ASPR’s Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience
Published Date: 6/27/2017 1:39:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Older people benefit from a lifetime of knowledge and experience that builds skills for coping with adversity and improves their ability to bounce back from disasters, also known as individual resilience. While many older people want to - and can - handle the challenges that arise from disasters on their own, their friends, loved ones, and even neighbors need to know when the older adults in their lives need a helping hand.

For those who live independently in the community, a little bit of assistance c  Read more…

What About Sparky? Incorporating Animals into Disaster Preparedness

Author: Captain Charlotte Spires, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, Executive Director, National Advisory Committees for ASPR
Published Date: 6/20/2017 3:27:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

As an emergency responder, what would you do if you suddenly had to care for 6,000 animals after a disaster? That was one of the biggest questions that I faced during Hurricane Katrina. In the wake of the storm, thousands of pets ended up at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Louisiana. The link between disaster veterinary health and the disaster human health became obvious really quickly. Evacuees and their pets both needed disaster health support.

Over half (68%) of all households in the U.S. have a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association. Even though so ma  Read more…

What Does Stigma have to do with Mental Health and Disasters?

Author: Sarah Alcala, Senior Management Analyst with Aveshka Inc. in support of the Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience and Rachel E. Kaul, LCSW, CTS, Senior Policy Analyst and Behavioral Health Team Lead, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 5/30/2017 2:41:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

According to the World Health Organization, 44-70 percent of people that needed mental health interventions do not receive treatment in any given year. Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher said that stigma was perhaps the biggest barrier to people seeking mental health care. Stigma is a negative and often unfair projection of shame or judgment onto people in a particular circumstance. It occurs when people socially distance a group of “others” based on perceived negative stereotypes. People with mental illness can also self-stigmatize, which can lead to denial, unwillingnes  Read more…

From lessons learned to planning tools: Find out how you can help communities cope with disasters

Author: Rachel E. Kaul, LCSW, CTS, Senior Policy Analyst and Behavioral Health Team Lead, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Lauren Lowenstein, Social Work Intern, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 1/27/2017 1:46:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

When a disaster strikes, it can be easy to see how the disaster damages buildings, bridges and parks. But the disaster’s impacts on behavioral health may not be so easy to see. Do you want a better understanding of ways that disasters affect behavioral health? Do you want to know how the federal government can help support behavioral health before, during, and after a disaster? Are you involved in emergency preparedness activities for a state, local, territorial, or tribal (SLTT) agency? Do you work for an organization that provides health services in emergencies?

If you a  Read more…

‘Tis the Season for Volunteering … with the MRC

Author: Brennan Leddy, Communications Specialist, Medical Reserve Corps Program
Published Date: 12/21/2016 3:28:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; Exercises & Trainings;

This holiday season and into the New Year, I challenge us to also think of ways that we can give of our professional skills, training, and time to serve our local communities. While there are countless ways to do so — many of which were mentioned on the November ASPR blog — the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) provides a unique volunteer opportunity to strengthen public health and improve the safety of your community.

Established in 2002, the Medical Reserve Corps began with 42 community-based volunteer units   Read more…

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