Improve Access to Health in the U.S.

by Direct Relief
Improve Access to Health in the U.S.
Improve Access to Health in the U.S.
Improve Access to Health in the U.S.
Improve Access to Health in the U.S.
Improve Access to Health in the U.S.
Improve Access to Health in the U.S.
Santa Rosa Health Center
Santa Rosa Health Center

When the Tubbs Fire swept through Santa Rosa, California last October, it destroyed the Santa Rosa Health Center’s Vista Family site, which served more than 24,000 patients each year.

But the fire didn’t stop the health center’s doctors from seeing patients. Special shipping containers were converted into exam rooms, allowing clinicians to continue treating patients in the months since the blaze. Two mobile health vans also allowed care to continue in the absence of a building.

Last month, the center got some additional support to help as it rebuilds. Direct Relief donated $500,000 to support its continued recovery efforts, which will go to help fund a new campus.

The new site being built will serve patients displaced from the fires, and the funding will also support continued services at the center.

At the time of last year’s fire, the center was already constructing the additional campus, which will serve the patients displaced from the destroyed campus over the next year. That site is expected to serve an estimated 8,200 patients a year and will be the first facility that fully integrates medical, dental, mental health and complimentary medicine in one facility.

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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.

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On October 27, 2017, Direct Relief airlifted 150,000 lbs. of urgently-needed medical resources to health facilities in Puerto Rico, where severe medical shortages persist one month after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. The Direct Relief-chartered MD-11 cargo jet landed in San Juan with $21 million (wholesale) worth of medications and supplies, including extensive quantities of intravenous solutions, nutritionals, and prescription medications for a range of acute conditions and chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

For more than eight years, Direct Relief has supported a network of nonprofit clinics throughout Puerto Rico on an ongoing basis. Prior to Hurricane Maria, Direct Relief had been coordinating with the Department of Health to assist with the medical evacuees from neighboring islands after Hurricane Irma two weeks prior.

Over the past two months, Direct Relief has delivered 148 tons of medications, vaccines, and medical supplies valued at $64.7 million (wholesale) in 560 emergency shipments to 143 partner organizations in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, USVI, and seven Caribbean countries.

In addition, Direct Relief has provided and committed financial support in the form of grants totaling over $2.7 million to 43 nonprofit health centers and clinics and their associations in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

These relief efforts have been made possible due to the tremendous outpouring of generosity from individuals, foundations, and companies to help support people as they recover from the impact of these massive storms

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Naxolone Sent to Clinics Nationwide
Naxolone Sent to Clinics Nationwide

In response to the opioid epidemic in the United States, Direct Relief is working with Pfizer to make up to 1 million doses of overdose-reversing Naloxone available at no cost to community health centers, free and charitable clinics, public health departments and other nonprofit providers nationwide.

“Pfizer has a long-standing commitment to improving health outcomes by expanding access to medicines and ensuring patient safety through educational activities,” said Caroline Roan, vice president, Corporate Responsibility, Pfizer. “Our support of Direct Relief’s work to increase community education about the risks of opioid abuse and recently expanded Naloxone Access Program underscore our dedication to helping address the growing opioid overdose epidemic.”

Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids ­– including prescription opioids and heroin – quadrupled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Naloxone can rapidly revive normal breathing in an individual who has overdosed on heroin or prescription opioid medications.

To gauge demand for the drug and obtain perspectives from clinicians working in primary care health settings, Direct Relief surveyed thousands of health centers, free and charitable clinics, and public health departments nationwide.

The survey revealed that community health centers and clinics are dealing more frequently with opioid-related overdoses. Respondents also requested more than 45,000 doses of the medicine, which has long been used in hospital emergency rooms.

Direct Relief began delivering the donations in March 2017. The initial distributions to facilities in 38 states included 36,790 doses of the drug, with priority given to communities with the most overdoses and to providers with existing programs and training in place.

“America’s nonprofit community health centers and clinics are on the front lines of the opioid overdose epidemic, as they are in every major public health issue,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe.  “Direct Relief is deeply thankful for Pfizer’s expansive commitment of Naloxone, which will not only avert tragedy and save lives but also help the safety-net health centers lean into the critically important preventive and education measures at which they excel in their communities.”

Direct Relief operates the nation’s largest charitable medicine program, 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.

Future shipments will include needles, syringes and alcohol swabs, which BD has donated to support the effort.

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Infant at a Direct Relief-supported clinic
Infant at a Direct Relief-supported clinic

In the first four months of 2017, Direct Relief delivered $37.5 million worth of medicines and supplies to community clinics and health centers across the United States.

In 4,710 shipments, Direct Relief provided items donated from more than 50 healthcare manufacturing companies, including BD which provided needles and syringes -- items essential for people living with diabetes.

Other items provided to these safety net facilities for distribution to their low-income and uninsured patients included: Vaseline for dermatological care; hygiene kits; dental kits containing toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, etc.; and Naloxone to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Support from individuals such as you help Direct Relief enable this assistance. Thank you.

Shipments staged at Dircet Relief
Shipments staged at Dircet Relief
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Organization Information

Direct Relief

Location: Santa Barbara, CA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @directrelief
Project Leader:
Heather Bennett
Santa Barbara, CA United States

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