Yvonne Groenhout, an intensive-care unit (ICU) nurse for 26 years who has served on the frontlines of the battle...
As the COVID-19 outbreak took hold in the United States in early 2020, our Emergency Response Unit (ERU) at...
As a global first responder that has delivered emergency relief in difficult environments since 1984, International Medical Corps is ready to respond immediately when disaster strikes. Now, with a healthcare system facing significant challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, and domestic resources stretched as hurricane seasons have intensified in recent years, International Medical Corps is working more closely than ever before with healthcare systems and state agencies throughout the United States to help them respond to disease, disaster and their aftermath.
As part of our global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are deploying emergency medical field units, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies, and volunteer clinicians to help overburdened hospitals throughout the United States provide treatment and vaccination services. We’re also providing training, both in person and through our online COVID-19 Learning Series.
International Medical Corps also has worked with Florida’s Department of Health and the Florida Association of Community Health Centers to develop additional preparedness programming for hurricane seasons, including the following:
In 2018, we responded in North Carolina and Florida to help communities affected by Hurricane Florence in September and Hurricane Michael in October. After the storm, we continued to help residents in the Florida Panhandle by setting up and outfitting temporary clinics for PanCare Health in Marianna and Panama City. And we supported thousands in Florida who were affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria, which cut a path of destruction through the Caribbean in September 2017.
For example, in and around Fort Myers on the Gulf coast, we worked with a local network of 30 clinics that reach 80,000 underserved men, women and children. In the Miami/Dade County areas on the Atlantic coast, we provided no-cost medicines to a network of clinics that serve vulnerable families, ensuring that they continue to receive care for chronic diseases like diabetes, and easing their financial burden as they recover and rebuild in the wake of the storms. In the immediate aftermath of the 2017 storms, with many clinic staff members displaced from their homes, International Medical Corps provided sanitation facilities enabling them to return to work. We also helped restore power to a clinic in Bonita Springs that serves some 30,000 people.
On December 10 and 11, 2021, a series of more than 50 tornadoes spawned by powerful storms swept through six states in the central and southern US, causing significant damage and more than 90 deaths—a number that could increase as search-and-rescue operations continue. Kentucky was especially devastated by the storms, with at least 80 deaths. Damage to infrastructure has been widespread, with hundreds of thousands in the region without power and hundreds without shelter. Following the tornadoes, International Medical Corps immediately mobilized an emergency response team to assess damage and determine needs in the hardest-hit communities. We provided staffing support in the wake of the tornado response, which enabled providers to operate mobile medical units and manage patient surge during the aftermath of the tornadoes. International Medical Corps has begun procuring clinical and laboratory equipment and supplies—including molecular diagnostic equipment, rapid tests and personal protective equipment—for KentuckyCare clinics, which will help the FQHC in its ongoing management of COVID-19 and influenza. We are procuring additional laboratory supplies to support day-to-day patient visits, covering such areas as family planning and non-communicable disease detection and management.
In 2018, at the request of the Florida Department of Health, International Medical Corps sent multiple teams of doctors and nurses to the state to respond to Hurricane Michael, which hit the Florida Panhandle as a powerful Category 4 storm (later upgraded to Category 5 by the National Hurricane Center) on October 10 with winds exceeding 160 mph. International Medical Corps volunteer doctors and nurses worked at medical facilities and special-needs shelters providing primary healthcare to people affected by the storm, giving local first responders the opportunity to rest and attend to their own losses in the wake of the devastating hurricane. Later, we collaborated with FedEx and AbbVie to deliver, set up and outfit two temporary health centers for PanCare Health. The facilities and equipment will enable the healthcare-center operator to continue offering medical and dental services to at-risk populations in Marianna and Panama City who were affected by the storm.
Wind, flooding and power outages from hurricanes create a range of emergency medical needs, including lack of medications for chronic conditions, infection of open wounds, lack of access to clean water and the potential for transmission of waterborne diseases. We leveraged our decades of experience delivering emergency relief and supplies in difficult environments, often where communications are down, to help hard-hit communities on the Panhandle.
International Medical Corps mobilized resources and deployed emergency response teams to the Carolinas after Hurricane Florence made landfall on September 14, 2018, causing catastrophic flooding. Our assistance focused especially on rural and harder-to-reach locations—where providing emergency care can be difficult.
We worked closely with state authorities to reach the cut-off communities to provide urgently needed support, deploying a number of response teams, including a shelter medical team (made up of a lead, physician, and registered nurses) to provide health services. We also worked with partners on the ground to deploy mobile medical clinics, shelters and supplies, and continue to coordinate with the network of federally qualified clinics that serve low-income communities to determine how to best support them.
Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean basin in early September 2017 as a Category 5 storm, maintaining maximum intensity for 37 hours and leaving 1 million people in Puerto Rico without power.
Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Maria followed. Both storms were catastrophic to the island, home to 3.4 million U.S. citizens—leveling homes, destroying health facilities and damaging critical infrastructure. It took nearly a year to restore electric power to all the homes and businesses, after the storms took out 80% of all power lines and flooded most of the island’s generators.
International Medical Corps arrived in Puerto Rico within days of Hurricane Maria and today continues recovery work in collaboration with La Asociación de Salud Primaria de Puerto Rico (ASPPR), a network of 76 health clinics focused on providing care to low-income families across the island. We are currently working on a long-term project to strengthen the island’s emergency response system, and are helping Puerto Ricans access healthcare through mobile medical units that are providing home visits for patients in hard-hit communities who are unable to travel to health facilities for treatment.
As immediate relief efforts have shifted to recovery, International Medical Corps continues to provide power, clean water, communications and cash grants to 26 health facilities and local clinics, which have reached more than 63,000 people.
We responded in October 2018 when Hurricane Michel made landfall on as the strongest hurricane to hit the continental United States in 50 years. Read more on our response >
We responded in September 2018 when Hurricane Florence caused catastrophic flooding in the Carolinas. Read more on our response >
We responded to Hurricanes in the Caribbean in September 2017. Hurricane Irma was recorded as the 11th most intense hurricane in the Atlantic basin, maintaining maximum intensity for 37 hours and hitting the Caribbean the week of September 5, 2017. Hurricane Maria followed less than two weeks later, traveling over Dominica on September 18 as a Category 5 storm, and later over Puerto Rico on September 20. Read more about our response >