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ND agency helped care for displaced flood victims
It’s not just agencies in the line of fire, or flood, or earthquake victims who are affected by disaster. Neighboring agencies, as well, can get drawn into the relief process.
When floods along the Red River in 1997 displaced residents of Grand Forks, ND, it affected an agency in Devils Lake, 90 miles west.
Cheryl Rayer, RN, manager of Mercy Home Care in Devils Lake, knew her agency would soon be pressed into service. "They had to come west," she says of the flood victims. "East was East Grand Forks, and it was flooding that way. South was Fargo, and it was flooding that way. North, there was flooding because that’s where the Red River runs. So they had to come west, and we’re the biggest city west of Grand Forks."
She had prepared by storing extra supplies and by stationing herself at the area community college, which was serving as an intake point for flood victims.
"There was a social worker who would guide me as to who was on home care, if she knew," Rayer says. "The only other way to find out was to take a history from the client, which the screening people did. If they mentioned they were on home care or had needs, then we could pick them up."
Other people became ill as a result of the dislocation, and were released to home care after a brief hospitalization.
In many cases, nurses were visiting patients at temporary Red Cross shelters, which presented special challenges. "There was no privacy," she says. "It was most difficult because we could not obtain actual histories and physicals from the patients — everything was tied up in Grand Forks. That was a prerequisite for admission to home care. You’ve got to have a history and physical, at least in the past year."
A physician was brought in to quickly assess the patients at the evacuation sites and have them admitted to home care. Rayer says that despite the unusual circumstances, it was necessary to provide the paperwork required by Medicare. But she suspects the agency understood the special strain health providers were under in the flood areas. "I think they must have, because we didn’t end up on focused review," she says.