Hurricane victims get medical help from Central PA Red Cross volunteers

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YORK, Pa. -- It's been nearly a week since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and with people displaced from their homes, victims with more serious health conditions are left with an urgent need for their medications.

"There are always individuals who leave their medications at home, especially with the water rescues, or they lose them, that happens all the time in many many disasters," said Mary Casey-Lockyer, senior associate for disaster health services at the American Red Cross headquarters.

That's why in addition to helping recovery efforts, nurses, doctors and pharmacy volunteers for the American Red Cross are helping victims with serious illnesses get the medications and care they need.

"The biggest burden we see is chronic disease, so all the chronic diseases you can think of like diabetes, heart disease, all of that you see in these shelters," Casey-Lockyer added.

With many pharmacies closed due to damage from the storm, volunteers are left with a responsibility to fulfill medical needs.

"They will do health assessments they will assist the clients to resource whatever needs they make, such as a mobility device if they need that, a walker, cane, wheelchair, we will assist the clients to get that," said Casey-Lockyer.

Even though storms like Harvey are few far and in between in Pennsylvania, experts say it`s important to always have a plan if you have health issues that need to be addressed.

"If you have medications, make sure you have an updated medication list with the types of medications that you are on, as well as the dosages," Bryan Wexler, M.D., medical director of disaster preparedness and response at Wellspan in York.

Doctor Wexler says many pharmacies and hospitals in the area have plans in the case a weather emergency like Harvey were to hit. He says at Wellspan in York, they train their staff once a year and make it a point to be prepared.

"We stock pile our own medications and actually know how much medication we use and each type throughout a day to day basis, so we can plan ahead...especially if there is impending weather so we can order additional supplies," said Wexler.

Meanwhile back in Texas, Red Cross volunteers continue working hard doing everything they can to help victims get back on their feet.

"We are very very appreciative they are amazing volunteers and they do whatever it takes," said Casey-Lockyer.

"They are amazing...absolutely amazing," she added.


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