Hurricane update: New rules benefit O2 patients

Monday, July 31, 2006

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The sunshine state is no stranger to hurricanes, but after last year's record-breaking season, plans are under way to help some of the most vulnerable Floridians, including those who use HME.
Special-needs shelters will receive $52 million in state and federal funding to improve the system, including streamlining registration, said Raul Lopez, president of the Florida Association of Medical Equipment Services (FAMES), who serves on the state's Emergency Management Special Needs Shelter Committee.
"People who are evacuated will hopefully be centralized in special-needs shelters, if they are on life supporting or life sustaining equipment, like oxygen or enteral nutrition," said Lopez. "(Providers) will actually be able to service them in those shelters, which we were not allowed to do before."
Providers can pre-register their special-needs patients with a simple questionnaire that determines eligibility, allowing emergency officials to better anticipate needs and space.
"We're trying to make sure people are not turned away at the door," said Lopez.
In the event that a storm disables an HME's operations, another provider can step in to take care of their patients.
With last year's critical fuel shortages fresh in mind, HME providers can register as emergency-service providers under a new placarding system, allowing them access to designated filling stations that will provide fuel within 36 hours of a hurricane. Providers must register in their local areas of service to participate.