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STATE SURGEON GENERAL REMINDS COMMUNITIES OF AVAILABILITY OF SPECIAL NEEDS SHELTERS IN EMERGENCIES
-Florida Department of Health highlights the importance of special needs shelters during the 2012 hurricane season-
Tallahassee - As hurricane season begins, Florida State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong stresses the importance of being prepared, especially if you or a family member has special medical needs. Department of Health (DOH) employees and community partners work together to make sure that individuals with special needs are prepared and are ensured continuity in services and quality care by helping to staff Special Needs Shelters (SpNS) across the state.
SpNS differ from general population shelters in that they have supplementary power and are capable of providing safe housing for people who need assistance with a health condition or require special supervision by a health care professional. Those eligible for SpNS have a physical or mental condition that requires some medical and/or nursing assistance that cannot be provided in a general population shelter. Local emergency managers maintain a registry of persons with special needs (PSN) for their respective jurisdiction. Guidelines for admittance to special needs shelters may vary from county to county. The following are some general eligibility guidelines:
- Evacuee has special medical necessities, yet does not require hospitalization.
- Precautions or isolation is required that cannot be handled in a general population shelter.
- Evacuee needs oxygen that can be manually supplied.
- Evacuee needs full-time care and is accompanied by a caregiver at the shelter
- Evacuee needs assistance with medications and everyday tasks due to a chronic condition.
- Evacuee needs periodic wound care assistance.
- Evacuee requires accommodations beyond what can be facilitated at a general population shelter.
"During a disaster, special needs shelters are an important-and often essential-option for Floridians and visitors with special medical needs," said State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong. As we continue our mission to protect the health of Floridians and visitors, it is important to remind families and caregivers to assist those with special needs, especially in emergency situations."
Whether evacuating to a general or special needs shelter, evacuees should be prepared to bring a personal emergency kit along with them. The kit should include:
- A 30-day supply of all required medications.
- Copies of all prescriptions and their dosage or treatment information.
- All medical equipment and supplies such as oxygen tanks, etc., required to sustain the special needs of an individual for a minimum of two weeks.
- Medical information including the name and phone number of medical providers/doctors, home health agencies, copies of medical insurance and/or Medicare and Medicaid cards.
- Personal information (Identification with photo and current address, Social Security card, insurance papers, emergency contacts and any other valuable papers).
- Any special dietary needs or food (must be non-perishable).
All Floridians are urged to plan ahead and know what to do in the event of an emergency. Please find a Public Service Announcement for building a preparedness kit at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPorHPWYoV4&feature=youtu.be
For more information about shelters in your area contact your local emergency management office at http://www.floridadisaster.org/County_EM/ASP/county.asp.
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Page last updated: 06/25/12