Responding to Texans in Need – Hurricane Harvey

Standing ready to respond to the effects of Harvey, which have been so devastating to Texas coastal communities and Houston, UT Health San Antonio has rapidly jumped into action to provide support for those in need.

Collaborating with UHS, other San Antonio hospitals, EMS agencies, and additional health care and immediate responding entities, we have joined with the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) in activating the Regional Medical Operations Center (RMOC) staffed by faculty from the university. The RMOC team is coordinating with San Antonio and Bexar County authorities at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to prepare for evacuees across the region.

Providers from UT Health San Antonio have been helping to staff a reception center on Gembler Road near the AT&T Center, as well as a shelter on Centennial Blvd. Over 250 evacuees arrived the first night. As the numbers of evacuees grew, second and third shelters opened on Gillette Blvd. and Athens on West Gerald on Friday, 8/25. By Sunday, the three shelters were hosting about 1,000 evacuees. The compassionate health care teams are helping to monitor shelter guests with chronic medical conditions, refilling prescriptions for medications that have run out or were left behind during the evacuation, and providing care for acute medical problems.

The number of flood victims is anticipated to grow significantly, as a new mega shelter operated by University Health System has opened in the old Harland Clarke building off I-10E/410. This shelter is able to provide accommodations for up to 2,800 evacuees.  With the flood waters beginning to recede in Houston, we anticipate this shelter will become a refuge for those finally able to head west.  At this point, teams have been consolidated at the new shelter medical clinic, which will probably remain open until at least Sept 5.

In addition to the strong response on the ambulatory side, UT Health San Antonio faculty and University Hospital were able to accept 20 patients from hospitals in Corpus Christi and Victoria. These patients and their families have expressed tremendous gratitude for the care and support they’ve received during this tragic ordeal.

Below are only a few additional instances of compassionate acts from Faculty, Staff and Students whose efforts continue to help those in need. Please share with us any efforts you are aware of that are being supported by our dedicated faculty, staff and students by emailing:

  • Faculty with the Health Science Center’s Department of Emergency Medicine have been deployed to an area southeast of Houston. Drs. Cooley, Sparkman and Winkler are currently working in Houston’s hardest hit areas to serve the urgent health needs of victims. These physicians will soon be airlifted to the Texas-Louisiana border to care for patients who are still trapped.
  • David Miramontes has been activated by the National Health Service to help with the effort and is now working in San Antonio through his role with the San Antonio Fire Department, which is assisting transferred refugees and patients.
  • Chief Michael Parks and the UT Health San Antonio Police Department have supplied nine relief commissioned police officers to MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Houston Medical Center.  The UTPD team delivered 1,800 pounds of much needed supplies, food and water for their officers who have not been able to leave the site since the beginning of the story. Many of those officers have lost their own homes, but could not leave until UT Health San Antonio police officers arrived.
  • Inspector George Pettit of the UT Health San Antonio Police Department also organized a group of 20 additional police officers from the Health Science Center, UTSA and UT Arlington to provide on the ground support in Houston along with much needed supplies for safety personnel.
  • The School of Health Professions faculty, staff and students have donated more than 60 units of blood in one day to University Hospital and the local blood bank. Students are collecting items to be transported to Houston later this week and three members of the faculty have been deployed to Houston.
  • Cindy Sickora, DNP, RN, UT Health Nursing, Vice Dean Practice & Engagement and Clinical Professor, is coordinating faculty and students to provide clinical care for victims of the storm who will be coming to San Antonio. The School of Nursing is actively encouraging its faculty, staff and students to donate blood, as O-positive and O-negative types are in short supply and always needed at our local hospitals.
  • Three of our School of Dentistry students that serve in the National Guard have been deployed to Houston.

UT Health San Antonio continues to demonstrate its commitment to Texans as our staff has requested to begin our state employee charitable campaign early to support relief efforts in a meaningful way. We are grateful for these efforts to care for those in desperate need and for a spirit of compassion selflessly demonstrated.

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