One of the missions of Heart to Heart International is to provide disaster relief when critical infrastructure is compromised and existing health systems are unable to attend to the medical needs of affected communities.
A series of tornadoes ravaged Kentucky and several other neighboring states on December 10, ultimately killing 78 people. However, hospitals and clinics were relatively unaffected. Seeking to assess the needs of the communities devastated by the storm, HHI’s Disaster Response Team arrived in Mayfield, Kentucky, on December 12.
HHI has been able to support the relief effort in several important ways, including partnering with Kentucky Care, a local healthcare organization, to understand the needs of survivors, particularly as COVID-19 cases were on the rise. HHI’s Mobile Medical Unit arrived in the area on December 14 and has continued to serve as a space for Kentucky Care staff to treat patients in locations where attention is most needed. HHI’s trailer is also being used as a space where local specialists can provide mental health counseling in a private setting, a critical need for those experiencing devastating loss and grieving for loved ones.
The Disaster Response Team deployed medical volunteers in January 2022 to relieve Kentucky Care staff, who continued to work for their community despite also being personally affected by the storm and its aftermath. HHI supported this local health clinic partner with COVID testing and vaccinations, in addition to medical care and supplies.
HHI is providing sustained support to the area by setting up a mobile pharmacy, equipping a van and providing grant funds to hire a driver and pharmacy technician, primarily to help get medications to residents who lost their vehicles in the storm and have difficulty accessing regular pharmacies.
In January 2022, the Disaster Response Team provided direct care to 240 patients, in addition to many others treated by Kentucky Care staff from HHI’s trailer and Mobile Medical Unit. HHI has also distributed hundreds of hygiene kits and other medical supplies benefitting storm survivors. The Disaster Response Team continues to assess the needs of these devastated communities and develop ways to support local partners on the ground.