NEWS
August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey - Here's How Nurses Can Help

By Angelina Gibson

Updated 9/8/17 - 5:01pm PST:

Hurricane Irma is now headed towards Florida. Find out how you can help there: Hurricane Irma - Here's How To Help

Update 10:05pm PST:

As rain continues to fall in Texas and flood waters keep rising, panic is beginning to ensue among the stranded residents. According to CNN, rescue workers are faced with hostile responses including gunfire and people attempting to steal their boats.

But help is still needed.

For nurses interested in being part of the Hurricane Harvey Expedited Response, HealthTrust WorkForce Solutions Staffing in Dallas is busing nurses to Houston by the bus-load. They own the hospital staffing accounts in Houston. If interested please contact Shannon Sharp, Director of Recruitment, at 817-492-1610 or 972-443-5504.

Fastaff travel nursing also needs your help. If you're available immediately to react and care for victims, please apply today.

You may also sign up as a volunteer with the Texas Disaster Volunteer Registry.

Update 11:28 am PST:

The storm has already claimed 6 lives, but that number is expected to continue rising as rescue workers have been unable to reach some of the worst-hit areas. Rising floodwaters have turned streets into rivers that can only be crossed by boat.

Several victim relief funds have been established:

Red Cross - Text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has established a Harvey relief fund through The Greater Houston Community Foundation. You can donate online here.

GlobalGiving.org is a global crowdfunding community relief has already raised $276,000 of its $2 million goal.

United Way of Greater Houston already maintains a disaster relief fund but anticipates the needs of Harvey will far exceed existing resources.

For more ways to help, NPR has published an extensive list of organizations.

Original post at 8:28 am PST:

The situation in southern Texas following the catastrophic Hurricane Harvey has left many residents in severe danger as flood waters continue to rise. Area hospitals have activated their flood control systems but, residents are having difficulty reaching the hospitals. 

The Texas State Board of Nursing is implementing a disaster licensing procedure, quickly granting temporary nurse licensure and many travel nursing agencies are reimbursing for these fees.

“Many outlying streets that are the channels to get to the medical center are flooded,” said William McKeon, President and Chief Operating Officer of Texas Medical Center in Houston. “We can be dry and open but if you can’t deliver patients to the medical center, that’s our biggest concern.” 

The hospital’s 8 helicopters are helping with rescue efforts however, they are not flying into the hospital due to the tornado warning. 

Hurricane Harvey and the flash flooding associated with the storm is unprecedented and its impacts are “unknown & beyond anything experienced. Follow orders from officials to ensure safety,” the National Weather Service said in a tweet. 

 

What You Can Do

During any sort of disaster, the most important thing to do is make sure that you are part of an organized response system. A sudden influx of unexpected, well-meaning individuals can cause more chaos than good.  Unfortunately, almost 10% of people who show up for natural disasters are fraudulently claiming to be licensed nurses.

Crisis Licensure

The Texas BON is waiving fees and quickly granting temporary nurse licensure. They are not seeking volunteers at this time but, if you’d like to help, obtaining temporary licensure is the first step. They have listed the steps on their website

If individuals or employers are seeking to bring in nurses from other states, we will expedite temporary licenses by endorsement applications. Nurses from Compact states with current multi-state compact licenses need not apply and may come to Texas to practice without application. (https://www.ncsbn.org/NLC_Map.pdf) ). Nurses from non-compact states will need to follow this procedure:

    1. Pull endorsement application from the Board website:

      http://www.bon.texas.gov/pdfs/forms_pdfs/endorsement_pdfs/RNEnd2014.pdf  (RN) or http://www.bon.texas.gov/pdfs/forms_pdfs/endorsement_pdfs/LVNEnd2014.pdf  (LVN)

    2. Write “HARVEY/THE NAME OF EMPLOYING FACILITY” in caps at the top of the application
    3. After completing, return the form to the BON:

      Email to mark.majek@bon.texas.gov, or Fax to 512-305-7401

    4. Applications will be reviewed and if the applicant has no current discipline or other eligibility issue, they will be issued a temporary license to practice for the purpose of responding to the declared emergency.

    5. This license will expire in 120 days or at the end of the declared emergency, whichever comes first.
    6. A list of all approved temporary licenses issued for this purpose will be maintained by the BON.

Volunteering and Donating

Nurses wishing to volunteer may register with the Texas Department of State Health Services Texas Disaster Volunteer Registry or the American Red Cross.

If you are unable to physically be in Houston you can still help!

Storm Set To Rage On

According to The National Hurricane Center - as of Sunday, 50 inches of rain has fallen in some areas. The rain is not expected to stop until at least Wednesday and a tornado warning has also been issued. 

Their spokesperson, Dennis Feltgen stated, “Everything that we had hoped wouldn’t happen but was forecasted is happening. We have a catastrophic, life-threatening flood event taking place over southeastern Texas, including the Houston metropolitan area. It’s bad now and it’s getting worse.”  

Government officials have reacted to the events - President Trump turned to Twitter to post his remarks, “experts are calling #Harvey a once in 500-year flood,” but that the United States had “an all out effort going” in response to it. 

 

According to officials - 3,000 national and state guard service members, 500 vehicles and 14 separate aircraft have been deployed to the area. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation has deployed 400 workers and closed 250 highways statewide. 

Social Media

Stranded residents have resorted to social media for help including Stephanie Atkinson for her child who is on a ventilator.

 

However, area officials are warning against using social media to seek emergency help. Instead, they should call 911.

The Houston Police Department tweeted that people should not seek help by directing Twitter posts to the department’s accounts. “If you have a life-threatening emergency, 911 is the best way to capture your request and make sure it is properly dispatched,” the department said.

As the hurricane rages on, the story is developing. Check back here for updates.

Featured image credit: The National Guard, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

 

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