Hurricane Harvey

Texas Hospital Association Analyzes Response To Harvey During Conference Held In Houston

A report assesses the challenging treatment of dialysis patients, among other topics

Tesa Rutherford, 21, and her fiancé Brandon Olivarez, 22, recently moved to Rockport, Texas, where they lost everything to Hurricane Harvey. They took shelter at the Wilhemina Delco Center emergency hurricane shelter in Austin on Tuesday, August 29, 2017. The optimistic couple plans on going back to Rockport to rebuild their lives and their home.
One of the sections of the report analyzes what happened with people impacted by Harvey who had medical needs and could not the proper medical attention at shelters.

The Texas Hospital Association (THA) released Wednesday, February 7, a report that analyzes the response by the state’s hospitals before, during and after Hurricane Harvey and presents a series of findings and recommendations related to shelter requirements, delivery of supplies and treatment of dialysis patients, among other topics.

The report was presented during a panel on hospital emergency preparedness at the THA’s Annual Conference and Expo, which is being held in Houston this week.

Carrie Kroll, vice president of advocacy, quality and public health at the THA, noted that “Texas hospitals leveraged innovative approaches” to issues such as transferring the most vulnerable patients, as well as feeding and housing evacuees who arrived unexpectedly.

Hurricane Harvey is the nation’s costliest natural disaster with nearly $200 billion in damages but, despite the storm’s epic size and destruction, only 20 Texas hospitals closed or evacuated during Harvey.

Shelters

The report notes that people with medical needs were turned away from shelters or shelters could not handle their medical needs and that population then turned to hospital emergency departments, although they did not need acute medical attention.

“This influx of people taxed hospitals’ resources, specifically food and linen, and created additional challenges for hospital staff, physicians and security personnel,” the report indicates, while adding that the THA will analyze whether policies and or processes applied in shelter facilities must be changed.

Another section of the report focuses on the need the hospitals had for resources and supplies to be delivered during the storm and afterwards to replenish exhausted stockpiles.

According to the report, “some hospitals reported that they knew their shipments were sitting in UPS terminals, but because facilities were inaccessible by vehicle due to high water, drivers could not deliver them.”

The THA said it will consider a follow-up survey of hospitals to understand the full scope of supplies needed and the circumstances that led to their delivery delays.

As for people with “end stage renal disease” –who require regular dialysis services, anywhere from three to five times a week— the report explains shelters were not equipped to provide dialysis and, therefore, “these patients sought dialysis in hospitals.”

For the hospitals that took on the responsibility of providing dialysis services, there were “logistical challenges,” according to the report, such as a shortage of dialysate, which is one of the two required fluids to perform dialysis, as well as a lack of safe water, which is also necessary for dialysis.

Given this context, the THA will evaluate the role of dialysis centers in larger emergency plans.

The THA will also determine if a change in federal law is needed to require dialysis to be available in general shelters and examine the possibility of changes to regulations to require dialysis centers to have “ride out” provisions.

Harvey Special Report: 

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Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

General Assignment Reporter

Alvaro 'Al' Ortiz is originally from Spain. He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all varieties of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast news and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master's degree...

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