The names Maria, Harvey and Irma have become synonymous with devastating disasters. These hurricanes left behind trails of destruction—killing hundreds of people and leaving thousands of people without homes. Sadly, the effects of these disasters can leave the aging population even more defenseless in the aftermath of the event. We recently spoke to Anne Markowitz Recht, LMSW, CMC, CEO of AMR Care Group, to understand how she has dealt with Natural Disasters with her clients.
ALCA: Can you describe a time you’ve dealt with a Natural Disaster as a Care Manager?
Anne: The big one was [Hurricane] Sandy in 2012, as with most [disasters] you know it’s coming, but you may not know the strength or severity. We go into emergency mode with our staff and clients. The scenarios are different with each client, depending where they are and what their support system may be. For those who stayed at home, we handed out flashlights, batteries and other necessities. We even had to help those in assisted living facilities. When you have 40 or 50 clients you must start days in advance.
ALCA: What is something commonly looked over when dealing with Natural Disasters?
Anne: Just get people to a safe environment for a week or two. Client safety is top priority, before during and after [the disaster]. Food, clothing, shelter – we get down to the basics. We think about their special needs; will they need power for their dialysis? How will they get their medications, are they diabetic? What is the aftermath going to look like? We plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Also, when dealing with a frail population, we want to try to get them to where emergency response can get to them.
ALCA: What is one piece of advice you wish you had known before having to handle this Hurricane?
Anne: I think we handled it well. Each plan is individualized and we reviewed the emergency plan for each client–, I think we did a very good job. We even got hotel rooms for our office to keep the office up and running.
ALCA: What was the aftermath like for Hurricane Sandy?
Anne: The gas shortage was a surprise. I used my car a lot which was a hybrid. One of our clients refused to move and we brought her blankets and hot water. Even though she put herself in a dangerous situation, we did our best to help.
ALCA: Thank you for speaking with us today!
If you’re looking for assistance with a loved one or client, please visit the ALCA website at http://www.nyalca.org/ to find a Care Manager near you.