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MD Anderson’s hurricane checklist for breast cancer patients

Many Houston-area residents experienced at preparing for hurricane season have likely already stocked their home with basic supplies such as extra batteries, a first-aid kit, rain gear and a 7-day supply of non-perishable food and water among other essentials needed to weather a severe storm and its aftermath. But breast cancer patients should be aware to also have additional supplies on hand, especially as Texas continues to face new challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, making it more important than ever to plan ahead.



a person riding a wave on a surfboard in the water: In this file image, a GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, and provided by NOAA, shows Tropical Storm Beta, center, in the Gulf of Mexico. A hurricane watch is in effect Saturday for coastal Texas as Tropical Storm Beta gains strength. A storm surge watch and a tropical storm watch are also in effect for the area during an exceptionally busy Atlantic hurricane season. (NOAA via AP)


© Associated Press

In this file image, a GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, and provided by NOAA, shows Tropical Storm Beta, center, in the Gulf of Mexico. A hurricane watch is in effect Saturday for coastal Texas as Tropical Storm Beta gains strength. A storm surge watch and a tropical storm watch are also in effect for the area during an exceptionally busy Atlantic hurricane season. (NOAA via AP)


“Cancer patients are often at greater risk of contracting an infection. So, try to get everything you need early on, to avoid the last-minute crowds in stores,” Marian Von-Maszewski, M.D., associate medical director of Critical Care at MD Anderson said. “It’s almost impossible to maintain adequate social distancing in those situations. And that could prove to be more dangerous than the storm itself.”

Von-Maszewski shared recommended hurricane preparation measures for cancer patients in a recent article published by the MD Anderson Communication Department. First off, breast cancer patients are advised to include an adequate supply of face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer.

“Evacuation could pose a risk,” Von-Maszewski said. “Face masks will be especially important if patients have to stay in crowded shelters.”

Flood water and other standing water are also a potential source of infection and breast cancer patients are advised to add mosquito spray to guard against insect bites, and antibiotic cream and bandages to cover any open wounds to their hurricane supplies.

Plan ahead for a hurricane during the COVID-19 pandemic

Plan ahead and be sure to maintain at least a two-week supply of any current medications. Make a list of all your current medications and their dosages, and talk to your doctor about what to do if you have to miss a dose or treatment. In addition, prepare a dedicated cooler with ice packs or frozen water bottles for medications that need to be kept refrigerated. Research the location of the nearest emergency room and how to get there. Call your insurance company in advance to be sure which ones are covered by your policy. Remember to keep your car’s gas tank full, too, in case you need to seek medical attention or quickly evacuate.

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Hurricane Irma caused over 400 senior deaths in Florida, study says

The aftereffects of 2017’s Hurricane Irma appear to have killed more than 400 senior residents of Florida nursing homes, a new university study shows.

Researchers at the University of South Florida and Brown University concluded that 433 additional patients died within 90 days of the September 2017 storm, compared to the same period in 2015, when there were no hurricanes.

Their study examined health data for 62,000 patients at 640 Florida nursing homes obtained from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The study was recently released.

HURRICANE DELTA’S DEATH TOLL AT 4 AS LOUISIANA OFFICIALS STRESS GENERATOR SAFETY AFTER DEADLY FIRE

The study was prompted by the heat-related deaths of 12 residents at a Broward County nursing home. Authorities said those deaths were caused when the storm disabled the central air conditioning and the staff failed to move patients to a nearby hospital.

The study was prompted by the heat-related deaths of 12 residents at a Broward County nursing home.

The study was prompted by the heat-related deaths of 12 residents at a Broward County nursing home.
(John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)

An administrator and three nurses who worked at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills have been charged with failing to prevent the deaths.

The researchers found that long-term nursing home residents suffered not only increased mortality rates after Irma, but more hospitalizations.

‘BUBBLE CURTAIN’ IS THE NEWEST CRAZY HURRICANE-KILLING IDEA

“Nursing homes need to really pay attention to these people when they’re in the process of reacting to a hurricane,” said co-author Lindsay Peterson, a research assistant professor of aging studies at USF.

In this geocolor image captured by GOES-16  and released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Irma, a potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane, moves westward, Tuesday morning, Sept. 5, 2017, in the Atlantic Ocean toward the Leeward Islands.

In this geocolor image captured by GOES-16  and released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Irma, a potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane, moves westward, Tuesday morning, Sept. 5, 2017, in the Atlantic Ocean toward the Leeward Islands.
(NOAA via AP)

Brian Lee, director of Families for Better Care, a nonprofit that advocates for better services at long-term care facilities, said the study shows that nursing homes need to do a better job preparing for hurricanes.

“This is an extremely vulnerable population, and nursing homes and other facilities need to do a better job of hardening their facilities to protect our loved ones,” Lee said.

After Irma, Florida required nursing homes and assisted-living facilities to install generators to keep residents cool in case of a storm. But the laws need to be tougher, Lee said.

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Nursing homes need generators that can allow cooling of residents in their rooms, not spot coolers that were used at Hollywood Hills. That required moving residents into large spaces to keep them cool. Fewer than 100 of the state’s long-term care facilities had temporary generators during Irma, the Times reported.

“We need to make sure that facilities can withstand these storms and not worry about transferring residents around and exposing them to potential transfer trauma,” Lee said.

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