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Caring for Evacuees and Responders: Stories from BCFS Health and Human Services EMD’s Efforts During the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season

BCFS Health and Human Services EMD offers sheltering, medical care, displacement, and other capabilities for victims of natural disasters. It’s part of a network of nonprofit BCFS entities that help people around the world. The organization’s expertise in disaster management and medical care services was put to good use during the 2008 hurricanes that severely impacted Galveston, Texas.

The 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season was one of the costliest on record, accumulating more than $50 billion in damages for various southern states. The city of Galveston and the surrounding area was especially hard hit, as Hurricane Ike caused property damaged and displaced thousands.

To respond to the scale of this disaster, EMD enacted facilities and capabilities that were able to help people stay healthy and return to normal as soon as possible. For the 2008 Galveston response, EMD helped more than 17,000 responders and evacuees with medical care and various other services. These efforts included temporarily transitioning some evacuees from Galveston back to Galveston Island, and helping them through this recovery period with medical care and transportation services.

A core component of EMD’s response was the creation and management of two Federal Medical Stations (FMS). These are facilities with medical supplies and equipment designed to provide non-acute care to people displaced by disasters. They function as “surge” medical facilities when local healthcare options are filled or damaged. EMD operated two of these FMS during the Galveston response, and used them to provide emergency medical services and vital supplies to both evacuees and responders. Designed to treat 350 people, each FMS also includes a pharmacy and laboratory. A third Texas FMS was managed by the federal government. The staff at this facility leveraged EMD’s expertise by asking for help with local organization collaboration and to assist in supply chain streamlining.

To ensure limited interruptions to care, the nursing teams at EMD coordinated appointments for dialysis treatments treated non-acute medical issues.

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