September 1, 2017
HHS increases presence and resources to help people affected by Hurricane Harvey
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services continues to expand its presence in the regions damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall, HHS staff has treated more than 1,000 patients. HHS has deployed more than 1,000 personnel to support on-the-ground efforts in a variety of ways including helping to meet the medical and public health needs of the impacted communities. Additionally, HHS has set up Federal Medical Stations in Texas at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Dickinson High School in Dickinson, the Fort Bend County Fairground in Rosenberg, and NRG Arena in Houston. These facilities allow for medical staff to care for up to 250 patients at a time. HHS has also actively utilized social media to communicate, among other things, the dangers of water damage to food supply and housing.
To date, HHS has taken the following actions in response to Hurricane Harvey:
- HHS Secretary Tom Price M.D., declared a public health emergency in both Texas and Louisiana.
- HHS personnel deployed more than 460,000 pounds of medical equipment and supplies to support the medical needs of those in affected areas. Additionally, HHS helped evacuate hospital patients as well as assist those who rely upon electricity-dependent medical equipment like wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, and blood sugar monitors.
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services designated dialysis facilities licensed in Texas and Louisiana, but not yet certified to provide care for Medicare beneficiaries, as Special Purpose Renal Dialysis Facilities. These facilities can serve as Medicare dialysis facilities for a limited period of time if they meet certain criteria and request Medicare provider status.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration activated a Disaster Distress Helpline and announced that states can reallocate previously awarded formula and discretionary grants to provide opioid use disorder treatment when no other funds are available.
- The Office for Civil Rights identified resources for emergency responders to help ensure individuals have equal access to emergency services.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activated its Emergency Operations Center to help CDC staff more efficiently respond to public health needs in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and to deploy resources and personnel as requested.
- CDC continues to widely distribute messages related to carbon monoxide poisoning, flood water safety, generator safety, mental health, chemical hazards, evacuations & shelter safety, food and water safety, pet safety, injury prevention, and power outages. CDC staff is developing information for hardware store displays related to generator safety and CO detectors.
- The Health Resources and Services Administration is working closely with Ryan White grantees in Texas and Louisiana to ensure that program participants are able to access the medications they need. HRSA issued a waiver to grantees so that they can provide services to evacuees regardless of their location.
Tips to help resident in impacted areas protect their health are being provided by HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at www.phe.gov/harvey.
To read previous updates regarding HHS activities related to Hurricane Harvey, please visit https://www.hhs.gov/about/news.
To learn more about HHS resources related to Hurricane Harvey, please visit https://www.hhs.gov/hurricane-harvey.
Critical updates will also be available at:
Secretary Tom Price, M.D. - @SecPriceMD
HHS - @HHSgov
ASPR - @PHEgov
CDC - @CDCgov