Natural Disasters: Be the Heart Your Community Needs

Natural Disasters

Community pharmacies play an important role and bring a unique value to the areas they serve. This role is particularly important when it comes to natural disasters. The threat of natural disasters isn’t new, but in light of recent times, there is an increased sense of awareness and need for preparedness if the next one is ‘The Big One.’

Under the HIPAA Security Rule and the Medicare Quality Standard, your pharmacy must have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place to implement. It’s a good idea to read up on your plan, research if it is still compliant, and go over this with your team, so there are no additional surprises beyond the stress of the natural disaster itself. Once you have your contingency plan in place, you are better able to serve your community and step in when the situation arises.

Increased awareness surrounding recent and impending natural disasters has driven states and organizations to establish and reassess protocols for disaster recovery plans. These vary state to state so independent pharmacies should confirm that they are up to speed on expectations. This isn’t the type of contribution that we are talking about though, we’re talking about a different list of things that you can do as your communities healthcare destination in support of first responders and federal help.

It all comes down to one overarching idea — Think Locally.

Your Role in Light of Disaster

As a local provider, nobody knows your community, their health care needs, and ailments the way you do. In the case of an extreme disaster, it is possible that responders may take days to get on the ground in your area. In the meantime, serve the community by acting as a liaison for communication, health questions, and readiness support until the Federal assistance arrives.

  • If you have working phone lines, allow those who are displaced the opportunity to contact their loved ones and let them know they are safe.
  • Remind your patients before an oncoming disaster to fill their prescriptions so they are prepared in case of service disruption after the event. Many patients require life-saving medications and do not think of refilling their medication in the chaos of preparing their homes.
  • Provide disaster preparation checklists to your patients that include information on proper medication storage, water safety, shelter, and resource information.
  • Reach out to local health officials and offer your services as a community resource center in the event of a disaster.
  • Make connections with pharmacies in other areas that may provide services that you do not cover. If one distribution center is depleted, you should always have a backup plan for necessary medication and supplies.
  • Be willing to jump in and open your store up to provide life-saving products, equipment and shelter to those in need after the disaster passes. Sometimes people just need a working outlet to charge their phones to reach loved ones.

The key is to have a plan and build the connections before the disaster hits. Practice and test your plan frequently enough so that when something happens, you are prepared to serve your community in what may be their darkest time of need.


PDS Stands With Those Affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

PDS believes in the strength of communities and supports businesses across the nation and abroad. Our hearts are with those displaced and affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. If you wish to donate, to hurricane relief, please find a list of charities below:

  1. All Hands Volunteers
  2. AmeriCares
  3. American Red Cross
  4. International Medical Corps
  5. Convoy of Hope

This is just a short list of groups dedicated to provide relief to those affected. Please take the time to donate and keep the victims and communities in your hearts.

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