Hurricane Katrina update: Providers get relief, look ahead

Friday, March 31, 2006

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Cleanup continues for Gulf-region providers hit by Hurricane Katrina, but $75,000 in relief funds awarded Feb. 2 will help two area providers ease the pain.
The money, raised at the first annual AAHomecare Humanitarian Dinner held at Medtrade last fall, will be split between American Medical Equipment Co. and Jones County Medical Supplies.
"I had to hang up and compose myself, then call back to thank them," said Sandra Hoskins, president of Houston-based American Medical.
Hoskins will use the funds to replace some of the $450,000 worth of equipment the company lost at its Gulf Coast locations. With its share, Jones County Medical Supplies in Laurel, Miss., plans to help indigent patients.
"We had a meeting and decided to use it toward people," said Keith Reynolds, operations manager.
Area providers continue to rebuild.
Kwik Kare Medical had offices in hard-hit Hattiesburg and Ocean Springs, Miss., and two now-closed New Orleans branches. Co-owner Jay Rubenstein estimated the company lost $750,000 in equipment. An insurance mix-up left them without wind and hail coverage for the equipment, forcing the company to finance replacements and incur heavy debt.
While Katrina seems a distant memory to most, its effects continue to ripple throughout providers' daily lives. For the first few months after the storm, some of Kwik Kare's suppliers cut them slack on bills, but disaster fatigue has set in and now everyone wants to be paid.
"They're over it, and we're not," Rubenstein said.