Healthcare help is on the way

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 8, 2005

REGION – All available health-care resources are being used to accommodate Mississippi and Louisiana evacuees.

“All County Health Departments are open and able to gives services,” Jim McVay, director of health promotion and disease prevention at the Alabama Department of Public Health, said. “We have an ample number of beds and emergency rooms available in the hospitals.”

There are about 700 nursing home beds open across the state and more than 50 Alabama shelters have opened and others are on standby status.

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“We are working with pharmacies to make sure medications are available,” he said. “Some pharmacies will let evacuees get their medications without a co-pay.”

Governor Bob Riley has signed a proclamation to expedite the process of obtaining refills for storm victims. Evacuees can go to any pharmacy and receive assistance with their medications.

According to McVay, there are 10-20,000 evacuees in the state of Alabama, but the Department of Public Health, FEMA and the Emergency Management Services are working hard to accommodate the refugees.

“We are trying to get long term housing for them,” he said. “But Alabama s handling the situation well.”

McVay said the state’s highest priority is Hurricane Katrina victims, but regional residents are still able to partake in regular department services.

“The services are still available, but there will be delays.”

Plans are being developed to prevent mosquito-borne diseases through a variety of strategies including aerial adulticiding in high-risk areas.

In addition, disease intervention specialists are working to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

Also to prevent a possible spread of disease, health officials advise parents to keep sick children home and update them on immunization.

The requirement for a valid Certificate of Immunization has been waived for nine months and day care and head start attendees will have 60 days to provide documentation or other history of previous vaccinations.

As for adults, they should get a tetanus-diphtheria booster, or Td, before they return to their area of residence if it has been more than 10 years since their last booster, or if they can’t remember when they received their last booster.

If you have any questions about immunizations, call the ADPH Division of Immunization at 1-800-469-4599.