As Harvey’s rains flood Houston, pharmacy comes to devastated area’s aid

With Hurricane Harvey bringing unprecedented amounts of rain to Texas’s Gulf Coast region, inland, and parts of Louisiana, catastrophic floodwaters have rushed through Houston and surrounding areas, endangering 6.6 million residents of the nation’s fourth-largest city and damaging its hospitals and health care infrastructure. The rain is expected to continue for days.

As President Donald J. Trump approved emergency declarations in Texas and Louisiana and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price declared a public health emergency, pharmacists were among those coming to the area’s aid.

A convoy of H-E-B trucks and supplies from San Antonio included a mobile pharmacy with pharmacy staff, and Walmart sent mobile pharmacies to the Gulf Coast. HHS posted a video depicting a team of pharmacists going through medications to make sure antibiotics and other treatments are not expired and are ready to go for patients. The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Pharmacy team posted a photo of the USPHS’s Rapid Deployment Forces holding team briefings as they prepare to help the affected communities.

While those of you in the affected region battle to help others and stay safe, here are ways that the rest of us can help, according to the Houston Chronicle and the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims. Our salute and praise go out to the heroes and charities. We will continue to cover this from the pharmacists’ perspectives.

Updated August 28, 2017, at 5:00 pm: I've been in contact with pharmacist Debbie Garza, CEO of the Texas Pharmacy Association. She said: “We have been receiving calls from hospitals in the affected area and have referred folks to NCPDP’s Healthcare Ready Rx Open.  We are just communicating resources to our members right now. Everyone is recommending coordination through Red Cross for what is needed.  We are not coordinating any pharmacist volunteer efforts. The chains are handling their individual company needs, and the different independent groups in Texas are still assessing their members.”