Two weeks after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the storm is still having a serious impact on the health and well-being of the people of Texas. This is especially true for those individuals and families who remain displaced and face an uncertain future. And even more so for those who have limited or no access to proper medicines and health services.
After initially supporting rescue and recovery efforts with our partners on the ground, we expanded our response by deploying our deeply experienced disaster response team to coordinate with local officials and quickly and accurately assess the health services needed for victims of the storm.
Your Support at Work
Now, Project HOPE’s medical teams are on the front line bringing crucially needed care and comfort amid the crisis. More than a dozen volunteers including physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists and mental health professionals are operating in the Houston area providing a range of services to hundreds of patients as the region struggles to get back on its feet. This support has also helped alleviate the burden on local health care professionals, many of whom worked punishing hours after the hurricane hit, some without knowing how their own homes and families had fared.
HOPE is providing a full spectrum of medical care at clinics in Katy and Tomball in partnership with Heart to Heart International as well as at the San Jose Clinic. This includes administering tetanus immunizations to protect people as they clear out damaged and flooded homes and have to contend with mold, water contamination and a compromised sanitation system. To help prevent the spread of disease, HOPE has also delivered 500 hygiene kits with an additional 500 kits are on the way.
HOPE Meeting a Range of Needs
There is a range of unique medical conditions and needs related to the hurricane. Some patients are presenting with chronic conditions, including rashes that are the result of wading in contaminated floodwater and our teams are also encountering some people who need psychosocial support because of the trauma of living through such a frightening national disaster.
"We’re seeing patients that have medical problems related to the storm but we’re predominantly seeing patients that need help with their chronic medical problems whether they’ve had a flare of those problems or can’t access their doctor for medication refills,” said HOPE medical volunteer, Dr. Carolyn Apple, an emergency and internal medicine physician.
"We’re talking about people who have run out or are about to run out of medicines for their blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, or some chronic respiratory disease such as asthma."
One of the most crucial services being provided by HOPE’s team is counseling for shocked citizens who have seen their homes and lives devastated by the storm and the floods that consumed vast tracts of southern Texas. Dr. Nancy Miller (pictured right) specializes in post-disaster mental health services and helps children and families address the emotional distress that many face in the wake of such great loss. And HOPE nurse practitioner Carma Erickson-Hurt said the needs are in many cases psychological and emotional.
“We’re doing a lot more than just giving a tetanus shot. Each patient has an emotional story to share and we’re (here) to listen and support those patients and refer them, if necessary, to a mental health professional here at the clinic who is experienced in crisis situations and can help with some of these issues,” she said.
Our Work is Far From Complete
The impact of our team’s work is not in doubt. It’s written across the faces of people who badly need our help to help themselves.
"I have received more hugs in the last week than I have received in the last year and some of that is sharing emotional experiences and hearing some stories,” said Dr. Apple.
As Project HOPE continues to widen its response to Hurricane Harvey, we are also acutely aware of Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane that has already battered parts of the Caribbean and could hit the continental U.S. this weekend. Thank you for your continued support as we monitor the impact of these storms and continue to respond where the need is greatest.
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