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Texas Providers Remain Determined in Aftermath of Harvey

Posted on in Disaster Relief

As Hurricane Irma surges towards the coast of Florida, providers in the wake of Hurricane Harvey continue efforts to serve thousands of patients in need, all while trying to recover from the Category 4 hurricane that dumped more than 50 inches of rain over Houston.

Bob Rodriguez, VGM’s regional account manager for Texas, and Collin Brecher from VGM Government Relations, have been visiting with members to capture some of their plights and collect stories of what, at times, were herculean efforts by providers serving the Houston area.   

Go-to for O2

The George R. Brown Convention Center was the primary shelter for nearly 10,000 Harvey evacuees. Although the American Red Cross helped prepare the facility to accommodate displaced Houstonians, those dependent on oxygen had more to overcome during their stay.

For industry veteran Mark Gowen and his team at Angel Medical Supply, experience and intuition helped provide much needed relief for those in need.

“We donated a dozen small B and C tanks so people on oxygen could become mobile to use the restrooms and to eat somewhere other than their beds,” stated Gowen, Angel Medical Supply’s controller.

To donate equipment or to give to the American Red Cross on behalf of the VGM membership community, click here

Gowen, who was previously a Medicare fraud investigator, was familiar with every HME and supply company in the Houston area, which was instrumental in servicing the convention center. Utilizing a local welding company, Professional Welding, he had a number of H tanks filled and then delivered to the shelter. 

“I became the ‘go-to-guy’ to help facilitate O2 resupply so that dealers and HME providers could safely deliver oxygen and other supplies to those in need," said Gowen. 

According to Gowen, there are many heroes to credit for the exemplary response during and following Harvey. "We've got a great team at Angel. Our guys navigated through obstructed streets and waded through flood waters to deliver ventilators and other life sustaining equipment for patients throughout Houston. It was a total team effort." 

 

Preparation Was the Key

Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” For providers in the Houston area, this axiom is one that they truly lived by.

It’s been two weeks since Hurricane Harvey bore down on the Texas coastline and for many of those impacted, they credit having a plan in place to navigate through the disaster and deliver much needed equipment.

“Many of the providers I have spoken with have commented on how their disaster preparedness plan was instrumental in protecting property and servicing patients,” said Rodriguez.

Baytown Medical Equipment, located 29 miles east of Houston, utilized patient data to contact its oxygen patients in advance to document where resupply orders should be delivered.

“We had a tremendous staff that contacted oxygen patients ahead of time to find out if they were staying put or relocating,” stated Anne Langley, manager of Baytown Medical Equipment and lifelong resident of Houston. “From the information gathered, we could coordinate resupply efforts and reserve extra tanks from our oxygen supplier.”

Houston Strong

Although most of the flooding has subsided and cleanup efforts are in full swing, the demands to continue to provide care and service to patients relying on home medical equipment and supplies remains.

Along with the countless hours helping patients, providers also have to contend with managing the effects Harvey has had on their personal property as well as that of friends, family, and staff. It’s clear to them that there’s a long road ahead to be fully operational; however, one consistent message from providers was that patients will always come first.

“For providers in Houston, it’s not just about getting supplies to patients. If they have it, they gave it,” said Rodriguez. “Providers are determined, resilient, and very, very focused on continuing to fulfill their mission to provide the products and services needed to protect their patients.”

VGM will continue its efforts to reach out to our community of members who have been impacted by the devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Let’s make this an event remembered not only as a devastation but as one of people helping people. If you can donate equipment, or if you’d like to donate to the American Red Cross on behalf of the VGM membership community, please visit https://www.vgmgroup.com/disaster-relief and share the link on social media using #HMEUnited.

 

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