Mar 21, 2018

Direct Relief's Irma Response

Direct Relief: Irma Response By The Numbers
Direct Relief: Irma Response By The Numbers

Before making landfall in Florida, Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm, with sustained winds as high as 185 mph. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 99 percent of structures were at least partially damaged by the storm in Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, and the US Virgin Islands. A Direct Relief team was on the ground in Florida before Irma made landfall, directing the movement and use of 12 pre-positioned Hurricane Preparedness Packs in the areas where they were needed most in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Direct Relief worked closely with health system officials and local partners to overcome persistent power outages and transportation challenges to ship specifically requested medical aid and supplies to Florida, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the Caribbean nations of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, the Dutch Antilles, Haiti, and Turks and Caicos.

To date, Direct Relief has delivered $38.2 million (wholesale) via 174 shipments to 59 partner healthcare facilities to support the health needs of communities directly affected by Hurricane Irma. Selected community health centers and charitable clinics will also  receive cash grants from Direct Relief’s Hurricane Community Health Fund in the coming weeks to help rebuild and stabilize operations to ensure the sustainability of critically important, community-based sources of care.

Jan 26, 2018

Direct Relief's 2017 U.S. Efforts

Direct Relief operates the nation’s largest charitable medicine program, supporting 1,300 nonprofit community health centers providing 27 million people access to high-quality, affordable healthcare nationwide. Direct Relief is licensed to distribute prescription drugs in all 50 states, and is the only humanitarian nonprofit designated as a verified-accredited wholesale distributor by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

Direct Relief equips local healthcare providers in medically underserved areas with medicines and supplies on an ongoing basis.

Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey left a trail of devastation throughout the Caribbean and U.S. Gulf Coast. Direct Relief quickly coordinated with hundreds of local health clinics and hospitals -- which they already support on a day to day basis -- to connect them with specifically requested medical aid after the disasters hit.

In Puerto Rico, for example, Direct Relief coordinated with longstanding partner healthcare facilities and teams of medical doctors on the ground to deliver nearly $30 million of medicines and supplies within a month of Hurricane Maria making landfall. When Direct Relief airlifted 76 tons of aid in late October, these healthcare providers helped ensure delivery to hard-to-serve areas of the island.

When a disaster strikes, this extensive network of partnerships allows Direct Relief to collaborate with trusted partners to assess immediate healthcare needs, understand the evolving situation on the ground, and respond quickly and effectively.

Dec 27, 2017

Update on Harvey Response

Hurricane Harvey was one of the most destructive and costly natural disasters to ever impact the continental United States. The powerful hurricane made initial landfall near Port Aransas, Texas, on August 25, 2017, and continued to batter large sections of Texas and western Louisiana for days. High winds, heavy rain, and unprecedented flooding took the lives of more than 85 people and caused extensive damage to homes, businesses, schools, healthcare facilities, and infrastructure. Houston, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country, was particularly hard hit by storm-related flooding. According to the National Weather Service, the amount of rainfall dumped on the city of 6.6 million people reached record breaking levels, with more than 55 inches recorded in some areas.

Direct Relief’s Response

Direct Relief has been active in emergency storm and flood-related responses in the US and around the world for decades. The populations that Direct Relief supports on an ongoing basis are especially vulnerable in natural disasters, as low-income and underserved families often lack the financial means to escape an approaching hurricane or other emergency. And, when people do flee their homes, they often are not able to bring their medications with them which is particularly dangerous if they suffer from chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease.

Ensuring Access to Essential Medical Goods

Recognizing the potential for catastrophic damage before Hurricane Harvey even made landfall, Direct Relief had been in touch with over 50 of its local partner health facilities whose populations were most likely to be affected by the storm. These low-income medical clinics and free and charitable health centers, established to care for vulnerable members of the community, are part of the extensive network of 1,200 safety net facilities that receive regular donations of Rx pharmaceuticals and other medical goods to assist and disadvantaged patients.

Due to the scope and extent of the devastation, as well as the need for tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes, medical services and products were needed quickly and in sizeable quantities. Hurricane Preparedness Packs that Direct Relief had prepositioned with partner health centers and clinics were opened by healthcare providers for immediate use, and additional emergency shipments, packed in rugged and easily transportable containers, were dispatched to facilities providing services in shelters and evacuation centers.

As these partner health centers and clinics reopened their doors, staff immediately began to see a surge in patients in need of care. As soon as they had a chance to assess the status of their physical structures, medical equipment, and pharmaceutical and supply inventories, requests to Direct Relief for assistance began to stream in.

In response to the enormous need, Direct Relief has delivered 355 emergency shipments to 44 partner facilities caring for people affected by Hurricane Harvey. These relief and recovery shipments contained more than 70,000 pounds of critically needed medicines, insulin, tetanus vaccines, first aid and general clinic supplies, diagnostic medical equipment, antiseptics and disinfectants, and personal hygiene products.

Financial Assistance for Community Health Centers

Direct Relief, in consultation with the Texas Association of Community Health Centers and the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, committed $500,000 toward the provision of emergency operating grants of $25,000 each to help address immediate financial needs that arose from the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Additional grants will be awarded based on the individual status and needs of facilities that are providing services to people hard hit by the storm.

Jon Sweitzer, CEO of Pasadena Health Center, wrote to Direct Relief to express the facility’s appreciation.

“We love helping people and enjoy seeing them smile. Thank you so much for all that you do and your team. You are modern day heroes. A lot of people are grateful for all you do in our area and the impact you have made.”

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