WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said 1,000 members of her staff are giving medical assistance to victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Sebelius said as the National Guard continued going door-to-door to assist stranded residents in two of the hardest hit areas around New York City, and members of HHS medical teams are providing immediate, basic medical care for the residents.
Nine Disaster Medical Assistance Teams from the National Disaster Medical System equipped with medical supplies and two teams of U.S. Public Health Service commissioned corps officers remain deployed in New York and New Jersey to provide care in medical shelters and to augment hospital staff at the states' and city's request, Sebelius said.
The teams include behavioral health professionals from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps deployed to provide mental health support in shelters and first responders. Residents also can connect with local crisis counselors through the National Disaster Distress Helpline -- a toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service via telephone at 800-985-5990 and text 'TalkWithUs' to 66746 24 hours a day.
In addition to requesting HHS medical team support, New York and New Jersey health departments have called on more than 615 medical volunteers available via two HHS sponsored programs: Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals and local Medical Reserve Corps to assist in shelters, emergency departments, special needs registries and call centers.
At the request of the state of New Jersey, a Federal Medical Station is serving as a medical shelter at Middlesex Community College in Edison, and at the request of the state of New York, equipment from a Federal Medical Station is also in use in a New York City hospital.
HHS activated the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program to assist people in the impacted areas without any form of health insurance coverage to replace certain prescription medications and limited durable medical equipment lost or damaged in the hurricane, Sebelius said.