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Cots in Austin: Visiting the Local Shelter for Harvey Evacuees

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hundreds of empty cots


This week, Austin is set to receive somewhere between 1,500 to 2,000 evacuees fleeing the receding waters in their neighborhoods around Houston. They are to be housed in several locations, one of which is the Delco Center, a sports center in northeast Austin. Last week, I headed to this emergency shelter as part of Ventanilla de Salud’s efforts to assist Mexican-Americans and other Latinos in receiving health services and continuing treatment plans while they are displaced from their homes.

The shelter was very low key around 3pm when we had arrived -- only about 50 people were present, most having gone into Austin for the day. At that time, 32 families of Mexican origin were counted. The families that have arrived are already feeling the strains of longer lines to the restrooms and food than there were in the first days. Now, the organizers and clinicians tending to the evacuees were preparing for the next big round of arrivals.

The American Red Cross (ARC) manager indicated that there were two sets of medical attendees, those from ARC and those from the City of Austin. When speaking with the medical staff it turned out that the second group was from the CommUnityCare Health Center mobile unit as well. They were prepared to send more acute cases to their walk-in clinics if not to the emergency rooms.

The nurse with whom I spoke believed that many of their patients at the shelter were not planning to stay very long, which is when I informed her of the Health Network. MCN’s bridge case management system would allow the clinicians at the shelter to enroll anyone with an ongoing health condition to help patients find health services at their next destination and assure that medical records are transferred. I left cards and numbers to contact us directly and informational flyers on the Ventanilla de Salud with those of the Consulate on the resource table for shelter beneficiaries.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler and General Consul Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez held a press conference at the shelter while I was there. While the Mayor informed the community about Austin’s plan of action, a volunteer clown made a balloon dance above a group of seven romping and giggling children. It was great to see that the shelter was prepared to deal with more arriving families, while Health Network preps to receive respective incoming calls. It was evident that the Austin community was stepping up in may ways to help the evacuees.


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