Improving healthcare access after Hurricane Ian

When Hurricane Ian hit the west coast of Florida at the end of September. Heart to Heart International responded with a volunteer medical team and provided healthcare to people affected by the storm in DeSoto county.

During HHI’s medical response, the disaster response team learned of two clinics serving under-resourced communities that were damaged to the point of inoperability. These two clinics had the medical staff and supplies necessary to operate but did not have a place to treat their patients. HHI was able to meet the needs of both clinics by providing two portable medical clinics to be used by each location for as long as they need temporary clinic space.

Samaritan’s Health and Wellness has been using the clinic and reports that many of their patients are trying to find housing, transportation and employment following the hurricane, so they are putting their health on the “back burner,” and have been delaying appointments. This clinic location helps remove transportation barriers so those patients can be seen.

In fact, Healthcare Network reports that many patients expressed that they would have gone without treatment without the portable clinic. This includes a 54-year-old gentleman with heart issues and high blood pressure who was on long-term blood thinners. He needed testing to determine if his medication needed adjusting, and the provider was able to provide this point-of-care testing and treatment plan change in the portable clinic. “The patient openly wept in thanks,” said representatives from Healthcare Networ. “Without the clinic, he would have been at significant cardiac risk.”

Hundreds of patients have been able to receive this kind of critical healthcare thanks to the availability of the portable clinics in this time post-disaster. These clinics are an example of the ways Heart to Heart International supports the efforts of local organizations to improve health access to people in under-resourced communities.