Providers, oxygen patients weather ice storm

Sunday, December 16, 2007

TULSA, Ok. -- A deadly storm that blanketed the Midwest with ice last week kept providers in the region busy delivering oxygen tanks to patients, nursing homes and even competitors who had lost power.

The storm, which coated power lines and brought down tree limbs, left 800,000 people without power--many of whom could remain so well into this week, said officials.

Here are some dispatches from the field, courtesy of AAHomecare:

* PITTSBURGH, Kan. - In hard-hit Cherokee County, which received an inch-and-a-half of ice, Mt. Carmel Medical Equipment had 150 oxygen tanks on hand at any given time, while power crews worked to restore electricity. "We lost power at the store for a bit but that didn't stop us from making deliveries and checking on our patients," said Director Gary Miller.

* NEVADA, Mo. - With more than half the population in his service area without power, Wilkinson Home Care Equipment was busy supplying patients, nursing home and some competitors with oxygen. "Just because the roads are bad, or the power is out, we still have an obligation as providers," said Tim Moore, regional manager. "I drove to Joplin on Sunday and delivered about 30 tanks to a nursing home without power."

Advanced planning prepared providers and their patients to weather the storm:

"We started midweek (the previous week) contacting our patients and making sure they were stocked up before the storm hit," said Maria Lucas, CEO of Tulsa, Okla.-based Asthma & Respiratory Services. "We have a break now in between storms, and we are again rushing to get our people covered for the next storm that is moving in."

Family Medical Equipment, in Altus, Ok., also took advantage of advanced weather forecasts, said Josh Drake.

"We spent many extra hours in service calls and mileage, above our budget, to deliver extra oxygen to each patient in our service area," he said.