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Readout of Secretary Price and ASPR’s Visit to Florida-Based Medical Support Teams

On Monday, HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D., traveled to Florida as part of the Trump Administration’s government-wide efforts to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Irma. Along with HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, M.D., Secretary Price visited the HHS National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps teams that are serving as part of the federal response in Florida.

First, Secretary Price met with Florida Governor Rick Scott and local officials at the Marathon Emergency Operations Center to discuss the current state of the Florida Keys, as well as the recovery efforts on the ground. During the meeting, Secretary Price and Governor Scott discussed the cooperation between the state, local communities and HHS operations. Secretary Price highlighted the seamless coordination HHS has experienced working with the state of Florida. This cooperation is aided by President Trump’s early emergency declaration, which allowed HHS to prepare ahead of the storm.

Dr. Kadlec provided additional details related to deployed assets and how his office, through its emPower initiative, quickly shared information with local first responders about Medicare beneficiaries whose lives depend on electrically powered medical equipment at home or on dialysis. Secretary Price underscored that, because of the President’s rapid action, HHS was able to lean in early to both prepare for, and respond to, the impact of Hurricane Irma by:

  • Deploying medical assets, including members of the Public Health Service, the NDMS, and mobile medical units;
  • Providing data and expertise to first responders and local officials;
  • Issuing waivers for Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP to enable individuals to get the care they need; and
  • Supplying recovery assistance to address ongoing public health, healthcare, and human services issues that arise from an emergency.

Next, Secretary Price, Dr. Kadlec, and Governor Scott toured an NDMS temporary medical site set up in the parking lot behind Marathon City Hall. There they met with the NDMS teams comprised of medical professionals from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire who have treated nearly 200 patients over the past week. Secretary Price, Dr. Kadlec, and Governor Scott saw the NDMS team in action as members triaged and cared for patients and provided mental health support.

Secretary Price and Dr. Kadlec traveled to Florida International University (FIU) in Miami to visit a special needs shelter operated by the state and staffed in part by the Commissioned Corps. There, they met with FIU President Mark Rosenberg to learn how FIU has been serving its local community by housing medical responders, including the Commissioned Corps, and patients in need. The FIU shelter has accommodated people with chronic illness, those who require a caretaker, and those with unique mental health needs. Secretary Price and Dr. Kadlec toured the shelter and met with 25 patients who told them that the Commissioned Corps health professionals not only provided exceptional care, but also gave them hope for life after Hurricane Irma. 

HHS personnel have now cared for approximately 2,300 patients, equally split between the mainland and the islands. The Trump Administration and HHS remain committed to meeting the medical and public health needs of communities across the southeastern U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands impacted by Hurricane Irma. This visit will further support ongoing federal and state response and recover efforts.