Providers Rush to Aid Hurricane Relief

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, HME businesses assist patients as they are evacuated from flooded, damaged areas.

As Houston, the Texas Gulf Coast and now Louisiana grapple with floods that have killed dozens and displaced more than 30,000 people, HME providers have responded to the tragedy by providing needed medical equipment and services to patients impacted by the disaster.

Despite Hurricane Harvey’s massive scale — more than 50 counties have been flooded and 325,000 people have already applied for FEMA assistance — providers are “rising to meet the needs of their community and beyond,” according to the American Association for Homecare, which has been collecting stories of providers’ hurricane aid efforts.

For example, San Antonio-headquartered Wave Healthcare, which operates four additional offices started its hurricane response efforts last week by contacting ventilator and oxygen patients to determine which of them needed evacuation assistance, and to ensure they had planned for the worst. Also, Wave helped another provider whose Houston location had been flooded provide DME and supplies.

Also, Kernville, Texas-based Hill Country Medical Equipment, which operates an office in an area that was affected worked with its staff to ensure it could support a possible rush of evacuating patients that might still need DME and services.

Even vendors and organizations serving HME providers joined the effort. For example, member service and buying group The MED Group partnered with a local radio station to provide needed goods and services to affected areas. Similarly, Cure Medical is working with its area providers and the Houston United Spinal Association chapter to get supplies to residents.

“We have a partner delivering a truckload of catheters today to help people sheltering in place,” said Lisa Wells, vice president of marketing for Cure. “My understanding from the City of Houston is that wheelchairs are most needed right now in shelters due to people being forced to leave everything behind.”

Wells posted a full list of the ways providers both local and distant can assist the relief efforts at http://bit.ly/2eo7hXU.

“These responses are characteristic of the great services our Industry provides,” said AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan. “This is not about “bent metal” — this is about passionate and caring people whose companies provide critical support and services, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, even when natural disasters strike.”

In related news, CMS has waived some documentation requirements in order to facilitate the timely provisioning of care, equipment and services to Medicare beneficiaries. The waiver is retroactive to Aug. 25 for claims made in Texas and Aug. 27 for claims in Louisiana. Guidelines for Texas are available at http://bit.ly/2wWAFzY and Louisiana at http://bit.ly/2gos0Ma.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.

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