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August 26, 2017
Contact: HHS Press Office
[email protected]

HHS readies additional medical support in Texas and Louisiana in response to Hurricane Harvey

HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. today declared a public health emergency in Texas. This action buttresses the work of HHS personnel on the ground and the assets and resources that were deployed yesterday in anticipation of the storm’s devastation.

As Hurricane Harvey continues to impact the Gulf Coast and local officials look toward assessing communities’ health care infrastructure and medical needs, HHS placed additional personnel on alert. A list of the latest HHS actions is below:

  • HHS provided emPOWER data to public health officials in Texas and Louisiana on the number of Medicare beneficiaries in each impacted area who rely on 14 types of life-maintaining and assistive equipment, ranging from oxygen concentrators to electric wheelchairs, as well as data on the number of people who rely on dialysis, oxygen, and home health services. These citizens are among the most vulnerable in their communities and most likely to need life-saving assistance in prolonged power outages.
  • Pre-positioned teams of doctors, nurses, and other health care providers who are from as far away as California, North Carolina, Connecticut, New York, and Minnesota.
  • Placed additional National Disaster Medical System teams on alert who are from Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Colorado, Utah, Arkansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
  • Placed additional types of experts on alert for potential veterinary, trauma and critical care, and public health support. The department now has more than 500 personnel on the ground and 1,000 more on alert.
  • Moved two 250-bed Federal Medical Stations to Seguin, Texas, to prepare to provide care in that area. Two 250-bed Federal Medical Stations remain pre-positioned in Baton Rouge ready to be deployed in Louisiana and additional Federal Medical Stations are available in Dallas for patient care in Texas.
  • U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers have been mobilized to staff the Federal Medical Stations and meet other public health or medical needs in impacted communities.

The Disaster Distress Helpline, a toll-free call center, continues to be available at 1-800-985-5990, to aid people in coping with the behavioral health effects of the storm and help people in impacted areas connect with local behavioral health professionals.

In addition to full-scale coordination across the federal Cabinet agencies, HHS remains in regular contact with Texas and Louisiana health officials to maintain awareness of the local situation and stands ready to augment support to the states as the situation unfolds. 

The Department is committed to meeting the medical and public health needs of communities across the Gulf Coast impacted by Hurricane Harvey in the immediate aftermath of the storm and as affected areas recover. Information on health safety tips during and after the hurricane will be provided by the Office of the Assistance Secretary for Preparedness and Response and will be available at www.phe.gov/harvey.

Critical updates will also be available at:

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at https://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: August 26, 2017

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