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Handling Healthcare in Hurricanes

Adaptive Medical Partners | Healthcare News

Handling Healthcare in Hurricanes

During and after natural disasters such as hurricanes, healthcare needs increase. Providers in the affected areas as well as those from elsewhere face possible ethical, logistical and legal obstacles to their ability to provide necessary healthcare.

Healthcare and Hurricanes

Hurricane Harvey

In August 2017, a Category 4 hurricane named Harvey made landfall in Texas, breaking multiple records for tropical storms there. Several days of winds and rain resulted in catastrophic flooding of many areas, displacing more than 30,000 residents and requiring more than 17,000 rescues. The Texas governor declared a state of emergency in 50 counties, and on August 27, he ordered a temporary suspension of all applicable regulations to allow in-state licensees and out-of-state healthcare providers to assist with disaster response operations.

In response to the governor’s proclamation, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) implemented the following for its licensees (athletic trainers, dietitians, dyslexia therapists and practitioners, hearing instrument fitters, midwives, orthotists and prosthetists, podiatrists, and speech-language pathologists) in the affected counties:

  • Automatic 60-day extension of license expiration dates
  • Renewal late fees and replacement license costs waived
  • Renewal of licenses without completing continuing education requirements
  • Extended grace period for expired licenses

Licensed health care providers who are in good standing in another state and coming to work at a hospital will be allowed to practice in Texas for the duration of the governor’s disaster declaration. Unaffiliated physicians can apply to the Texas Medical Board for an expedited permit; affiliated physicians’ name, license type, licensure state and identification number must be submitted by email to TDLR by the hospital.

Out-of-state nurses will be issued temporary licenses by the Texas Board of Nursing, and the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists is issuing temporary licenses for out-of-state psychologists.

Hurricane Irma

In early September, another record-breaking, Category 5 tropical cyclone named Irma made its way across Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Florida, leaving a wake of devastation. Tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes.

Since many patients are unable to access healthcare facilities due to road closures, several health IT companies are donating free telemedicine services to affected areas. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in Florida, which allows the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to temporarily suspend some of its administrative requirements, especially for beneficiaries in need of dialysis care or replacement medical equipment.

Adaptive Medical Partners thanks all of our clients, physicians and other health care providers participating in the disaster recovery efforts. Your commitment to care is commendable.