The waters are slowly receding, and the tropical storm warning and flash flood watch has been called off in Houston. Now the hard work of rebuilding begins.
In the meantime, over 32,000 residents are evacuees after Hurricane Harvey destroyed their homes and possessions. Some of them fled rising waters with no more than the clothes on their backs and perhaps a bag or two of personal items. And those who are managing health conditions may urgently require medical supplies and services that have been interrupted by the storm.
About half of all American adults have some kind of chronic disease, such as heart disease, arthritis or Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes in particular can lead to rapid complications without insulin treatment, and longer-term problems with managing the disease can lead to blindness, lower-limb amputations, kidney failure and other serious conditions. For such people, a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey is not only extremely destabilizing but also potentially deadly.
Here’s a list of resources to help people connect with medical treatments for chronic illnesses, as well as a few ways for people to help those in need beyond cash and blood donations. The immediate and long-term medical supply needs will vary by condition, but for now supplies and support are urgently needed in the days after the hurricane.
1. Insulin for people with diabetes
People with diabetes need to carefully calibrate their blood sugar, typically with insulin, a hormone that helps the body metabolize sugar. If they go without insulin for too long, the results could be fatal.
An emergency shipment of donated insulin vials and other supplies for managing diabetes was set to arrive in Texas on Friday. It will be distributed at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, as well as Galveston and Corpus Christi communities, as part of a joint effort between the American Diabetes Association, Insulin for Life USA and JDRF, a juvenile diabetes research organization. A second shipment of emergency supplies will arrive early next week, and will be distributed at NRG Center in Houston, as well as Austin and San Antonio Communities.
If you need insulin, syringes, alcohol pads, blood-sugar testing kits and other supplies, visit the ADA’s Hurricane Harvey site or call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. CDT through Friday, Sept. 1, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CDT on Saturday, Sept. 2.
Those who have diabetes supplies to donate for future emergency efforts should visit Insulin for Life USA’s site. They welcome insulin vials, pens and cartridges, as well as certain testing kits, syringes and other kinds of injection supplies.
Finally, those who managed to salvage insulin vials should know that while insulin works best if stored in a refrigerator, unrefrigerated vials can still be used if they were stored somewhere between 59 to 86 degrees for up to 28 days. Insulin that has been frozen should not be used. And once a new supply of insulin is obtained, any improperly stored vials should be discarded, the Food and Drug Administration advises.
2. Dialysis for people with kidney problems
When kidneys fail, dialysis treatment can help replace a kidney’s function by filtering the blood outside the body and then infusing it back in. Generally, people who need dialysis report to a dialysis center three times a week to thoroughly filter waste from the bloodstream, but, if these facilities are inaccessible to patients, toxins can build up in the blood fast and hasten death.
If your normal dialysis provider is inaccessible, the Kidney Community Emergency Response can coordinate treatment for people in an emergency. Call (866) 901-3773 or visit its site for more information.
KCER provides technical assistance to End Stage Renal Disease Networks to respond to kidney patient communities in an emergency. You can also reach ESRD at (866) 407-3773.
People who need dialysis treatment can also call Fresenius Kidney Care’s emergency hotline at (800) 626-1297 to learn where the closest open dialysis clinic is to them. Their doors are currently open to any patient, regardless of where they usually get their dialysis treatment.
3. Clean water for formula-fed babies
Parents who need breastfeeding help, safe sources of water and infant formula can call Texas’ Lactation Support Hotline at (855) 550-6667.
4. Specialized medical supplies for people with disabilities
People who use specialized medical equipment, including feeding tubes, tracheostomy tubes and respiratory equipment, and who lost supplies in the storm may find that these things can’t be easily or quickly replaced. Little Lobbyists, Trach Mommas of Louisiana and several other groups are calling upon the patient community to donate supplies to families in need.
If you have unopened, unused and unexpired medical supplies to donate, you can ship them or drop them off in some places.
People who live in Washington, D.C., can email firstname.lastname@example.org for information about how to drop supplies off in Silver Spring, Maryland.
People in Texas should fill out a form to help the groups plan for a Texas drop-off.
Louisiana residents can ship the supplies to Trach Mommas of Louisiana, 11725 Industrialplex Blvd., Suite 3, Baton Rouge, LA 70809.
People elsewhere can ship supplies to The Parker Lee Project, ATTN: Harvey supplies, 1810 S. Kaufman St., No. 204, Ennis, Texas 75119.
Donations should include an itemized list. For more information about what’s needed, contact email@example.com.
5. Antiretroviral therapy for people with HIV
People who lost HIV medication are in danger of secondary infections and have a higher risk of transmission if they don’t continue on their daily antiretroviral therapy. If your HIV medication was lost in the flooding, the Texas HIV Medication program can help connect you with more. Call (800) 255-1090 or visit the Texas Department of State Health Services’ site to see which local pharmacies have received HIV medication deliveries from the Texas HIV Medication Program.
6. Doctors and other health care volunteers needed
And finally, if you’re a medical professional who can assist in caring for stranded Houston residents, there are several ways you can volunteer. To volunteer, you can register with the Red Cross to be deployed to an area that needs medical care. You can also contact a local medical society.
Here are two requests from help sent through Twitter:
Got information about another donor drive for medical supplies and services? Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.