Following a hurricane, a top priority for many South Floridians, especially seniors, might be: “can I get my meds?”
Rx Response — www.rxresponse.org — a coalition of pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and hospitals and drug store chains, along with the American Red Cross, is working to maintain an uninterrupted supply of medicine after a hurricane or similar event, the group told the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans this week.
The program “www.RxOpen.org” will tell you, online or on your mobile device, which pharmacies are open following a natural disaster. It will even break it down to county-by-county displays.
Currently, 207 Palm Beach County pharmacies are participating in the program.
The group first developed the tool following hurricanes Ike and Gustav in 2009. At the start of the 2012 season, it beefed up the program, with a new feedback tool that allows emergency managers, public health officials and pharmacies to provide status updates.
That same year, pharmacy giant Walgreens became the first chain to report directly to Rx Response.
When Hurricane Sandy ravaged the New York-New Jersey area this past summer, RxResponse mapped pharmacies in 10,000-plus counties in 11 states and the District of Columbia. It was able to get status reports on 70 percent of all pharmacies, RxResponse Director Erin Mullen said at a press briefing at the hurricane conference.
The group said traffic on the tool quadrupled during the storm, with more than 4,100 views, and afterward, more than 200 pharmacies in that area asked to join.
The outfit also offers “Rx on the Run,” an online tool that people can fill out and then print a personalized, wallet-sized medication card that documents prescriptions, dosages and other important medical information. They then can use the card to get medicine after the storm. People can download the card on www.rxresponse.org.
Even with such programs, people can help themselves a great deal by being sure they’re well stocked up before the storm arrives, Mullen said.
Palm Beach County doesn’t have a separate pharmacy status program similar to the one local residents can access by Rx Response, county emergency manager Bill Johnson said from West Palm Beach.
But, he said the county this year plans to add to its Disaster Awareness & Recovery Tool (DART) App lists of service stations, hardware stores, and grocery stores equipped with generators, as well as whether each is open or closed.
PBC DART is available for immediate download at no charge from Apple’s iTunes Store and the Android Google Market.
The county did not send a representative to this year’s hurricane conference, citing budget concerns.