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Connections - 10.31.22

8 Tips to Keep Meds Coming When Disasters Hit

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As much as everyone prepares and hopes for the best, hurricane season and the threat of other natural disasters are always devastating. Providers work overtime planning ahead, and when storms hit, there are often unpleasant surprises and to-do lists a mile long.

We know how important it is for people with I/DD to continue receiving their medications, especially when a natural disaster is causing chaos and stress. These steps can help make sure that medications are received – giving everyone a little peace of mind in difficult times.

  1. Check and order all medication supplies early. Don’t wait until the last minute. Be sure to include inhalers, eye drops, creams, ointments, and refrigerated items as well as any routine/non-cycle fill medications.
  2. Discuss with the pharmacy in advance how you will communicate if phone lines, cell towers, and/or power goes down and it’s difficult or even impossible to communicate via regular channels. If you have alternative means of communication during the disaster, make sure the pharmacy has this information.
  3. Stock up on essentials such as food, water, batteries, etc. in advance. Have everything stored in an easily accessible location and have a plan for how you will transport these items if there is an evacuation. Keep an emergency kit with you at all times.
  4. If you evacuate, notify the pharmacy of the location of each client promptly, and take ALL laptops, cables, and chargers with you. Ensure laptops are charged for emergency and normal ordering through eMAR.
  5. Don’t assume you’ll have access to computers and online data during an emergency. Print an extra set of paper MARs to have on hand. Keep it in a safe, secure location.
  6. Anticipate possible delays because of inaccessible roads from flooding, fallen trees, power outages, etc. Have information about alternative routes, and let the pharmacy known as soon as you hear about a road closure or detour.
  7. Follow all your organizational policies and procedures regarding disaster/evacuation processes. Discuss relevant aspects of these in advance with your pharmacy.
  8. When you have disaster drills throughout the year, include your pharmacy professionals so you will be prepared to work together when there is a hurricane or other emergency.

Ensuring the individuals you support get medications can help them weather a storm with calm and comfort. Knowing you have this handled can free you to focus on other aspects of a disaster and do everything possible to keep everyone – as well as your staff – safe.