• HME providers pitch in to help during recent weather crises

    Editor’s Note:  For more on heroism by home care providers, see CRE’s Competitive Bidding blog here.

    From: Home Care Magazine

    WASHINGTON, July 3, 2012—HME providers worked alongside first responders to ensure the safety of the elderly and disabled during the recent extreme weather and power outages that struck much of the nation, the American Association for Homecare reported.

    One provider that helped out was Home MediService, which is based in Havre de Grace, Md. It serves about 1,500 oxygen patients in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Power outages can be deadly for people who rely on oxygen concentrators or ventilators, both of which require electricity. A storm ravaged the Mid-Atlantic on June 29 and caused massive power outages.

    “Beginning about 4:30 a.m. on Saturday June 30, we started receiving calls from patients without power,’’ Joe McGrain, distribution operations manager for the company, told AAHomecare. “We received a total of 33 calls on Saturday and Sunday and responded to 21 to deliver additional backup oxygen.”

    McGrain said each call was evaluated to determine the patient’s oxygen flow rate and quantity of backup oxygen in the home. Backup supplies were dispatched accordingly.

    “Through this event we had no patients who were without oxygen,’’ McGrain said. “Our emergency plan has proven itself through this event. Because of our adequate backup and training during the initial setup, many of our patients were prepared and therefore did not need immediate dispatch.”

    When Florida was recently hit with severe flooding, Wheelchairs Plus of Middleburg, Fla., loaned out nearly all of its wheelchairs to patients at no charge, said TJ McEnany, vice president of the company.

    “Several weeks after the most recent flooding rains, we are seeing rivers just now cresting at record breaking levels,” he explained. “As a result we have seen a need for mobility and other medical equipment due to existing equipment being literally washed away, in most cases unfortunately along with the patients’ homes. Delivering this equipment was not easy since most of the recipients had to be relocated just before their homes were flooded.”

    In addition, home medical equipment providers from the Carolinas to New England last August responded to the havoc created by Hurricane Irene, AAHomecare reported.

    “This illustrates the vital role of these homecare providers in our healthcare system,’’ said Tyler J. Wilson, president of AAHomecare. “Whether because of the devastation caused by the heat wave, power outages, wildfires, or floods, our members continually demonstrate why the nation needs a strong, robust infrastructure for providing medical equipment to seniors in their homes.”

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