Providers in SC weather record rain

‘There are still a lot of unknowns,’ says one provider
Friday, October 9, 2015

COLUMBIA and CHARLESTON, S.C. – The sun is finally shining after Hurricane Joaquin dumped more than two feet of rain over some areas of South Carolina, but providers and their patients aren’t out of the woods yet. 

“My fear is that over the next several days we’re going to hear some stories (about patients who need help) that we just don’t know about yet,” said Dewey Roof, president of LifeHME in Columbia, S.C. “There are still a lot of unknowns.”

Power outages, curfews, flooding and evacuations have made it difficult for providers to contact their patients or make deliveries should they need supplies. 

Although Roof sent emails to and called patients, warning them of the approaching weather system, he says he received several calls from patients asking for extra oxygen tanks as the waters began to rise.

“A lot of times those people were in areas that we were restricted from traveling, so we were not even allowed to respond to those patients,” he said. “Obviously, we encouraged them to contact the local officials, or 911, where necessary, but in many cases our folks didn’t have pathways to get to them.”

In addition to local officials or 911, providers like Jamie Smith, owner of ABC Medical in North Charleston, S.C., instruct their oxygen patients to call their electric company, should the power go out.

“If a tree is down or the roads are washed away and there’s no way to them, they’re supposed to get electricity before anybody else,” he said.

Providers had not only patients to worry about but also their physical locations.

“We did not sustain any damage,” said Dan Gooch, vice president of operations at West Columbia, S.C.-based Pal-Med. “We were very fortunate. We put bags along the doors, sealed them with plastic and taped them shut. I came to check everything on Monday and we had about six inches of water in front of the building that never came in.”

South Carolinians are no strangers to hurricanes and floods, which is why most if not all providers have action plans in place for times like this. In the event that the building had been flooded and Pal-Med was unable to operate, Gooch says another diabetes supply company in South Carolina would have served his patients until he was able to get back online. 

“In return, we’re their backup should something happen to them,” he said.