Joined: Mar 17, 2005
Location: Staten Island
|Posted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:59 pm Post subject: NYSNA testimony Sandy re: Patricia Caridad June 2013
From Jun 25, 2013 to Jul 04, 2013 (included)
My name is Patricia Caridad and I am a Registered Nurse. I work for the New York State Nurses Association. I was responsible for coordinating medical care for the residents of Staten Island in the aftermath of Sandy. I have also done Sandy recovery work in Staten Island and Far Rockaway.
I would like to make some suggestions to take into consideration related to Intro 1065: Creating an outreach and recovery plan to assist vulnerable and homebound residents, and indeed all affected residents before, during and after emergency conditions:
On community outreach and tracking of vulnerable and homebound residents:
How will first responders and volunteers on the ground get access to a registry or listing of vulnerable and homebound resident to be able to offer aid? We suggest that Community Boards be responsible for the tracking of such residents with special medical needs within their neighborhoods. Each Community Board could then report to one medical professional that could keep a constantly updated list. In the event of another disaster these individuals could be tracked and found by their neighbors, for evacuation, healthcare and food and nutrition services.
Canvasing disaster-affected areas is a must! That means door-to-door, and it should be done frequently. People need regular meals and medical attention and often help with daily living, so once is not enough.
On coordination of services:
Loss of durable medical equipment after Sandy was a major problem for survivors in Staten Island. An arrangement needs to be made with medical supply companies before a disaster so that disaster survivors who have lost their equipment can get replacement nebulizers, wheelchairs, CPAP machines, glucometers, etc. immediately, free of charge to the survivor. During the aftermath of Sandy, NYSNA leaders pleaded with the Mayor’s office to help us obtain portable nebulizers. We were told that these were not life-or-death medical devices. People die every day from asthma attacks that require use of nebulizers. These are lifesaving machines for many patients.
Develop an emergency-response tetanus vaccination plan to be conducted by registered health professionals within the disaster area, going door to door. During the weeks after Sandy, I had the NYSNA mobile van parked in the disaster area and vaccinated at least 500 individuals who had stepped on nails or otherwise hurt themselves during the recovery.
Each community should have a designated place with emergency generators, a walk-in refrigerator to hold medical and food supplies that can be stocked during preparation for a storm or other disaster. It is important that there be locl places/generators to allow people to re-charege their phones and other devices so they are not cut off from the world.
In an emergency, speed of response is critical. Thus, there must be a minimum of red tape and bureaucracy, which holds back the ability to move quickly. The plan as outlined in Intro 1065 has many layers that, if not perfectly synchronized, can delay the emergency response.
How medical services can be made available to affected residents:
I have travelled to Oklahoma to provide emergency relief of the victims of the devastating tornados that hit Moore, OK. Oklahoma City provides “clinics in a can” which are freight containers converted to clinics. They station these clinics right in the neighborhood and can administer care to victims immediately. I ran such a clinic in Coney Island for 6 months and cared for at least 40 patients a day. (That mobile clinic was donated by the Physicians for a National Health Program, not the City of NY.)
After Sandy, residents could not get over the bridge to go to Coney Island Hospital clinic, which was destroyed; it took several weeks before any mobile units were on SI. There must be a faster response with mobile clinics where healthcare facilities have been wiped out or shut down.
Mental health issues must be addressed on a consistent and ongoing basis. PTSD is rampant and survivors should have support from the City to attain therapy. Most people think of PTSD as something that affects only members of the military who have seen active duty. In reality, PTSD can affect anybody who has survived and experienced the losses associated with a disaster. It can manifest itself as an inability to sleep or loss of appetite. It must be treated to enable people to fully get their lives back.
The closing of the Bayley Seaton inpatient detox center has been a true hardship and detrimental to the residents of the affected area, and has compounded the problem by cutting these patients off from local treatment. It is not good public health policy to close clinics or hospitals that provide care in the aftermath of a disaster.
NYSNA has been involved with many other local organizations in the Long Term Recovery Organization on Staten Island since November. Our organization is involved in developing long-term solutions and preparation for future disasters. This group should be a part of any city planning for disaster relief. We have after all, been on the ground all these many months, rebuilding our homes and communities and trying to heal. The City needs the input of the Sandy survivors.