Mobile pharmacy created to serve communities during disasters

Robert Cain
Robert Cain

Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The September 2008 windstorm and January 2009 ice storm left with many businesses without power and basically shut down Kentuckiana cities. That turned out to be more than just an inconvenience for many Kentucky residents. Those storms closed businesses, including pharmacies, for weeks because they had no power. Now, there is a plan in the Commonwealth to get customers their medication even when the pharmacy is closed.

Tornados, floods and ice storms have crippled the Commonwealth over the last year. In those disasters, the loss of power forced some pharmacies to close for days.

"That was one of the major problems, communication," said Robert Cain, a pharmacist and the owner of Hanson Pharmacy in Hanson, KY. "Communications were down, the cell phones were down, so people just couldn't even call to find out if you were here."

Cain's pharmacy stayed open during the ice storm, but in the Hurricane Ike wind storm, it was forced to close. It is situations like that in which the state says its new mobile pharmacy unit will come in handy.

"We recognized the need to have a van that can serve as a mobile pharmacy to be able to dispense medications to the public in these circumstances," said Dr. William Hacker, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

The mobile pharmacy unit is 28-feet long and is generator powered. It also has satellite phone capability and can be connected to regular telephone land lines.

"This could serve as a temporary place that can continue to meet the needs of the public," Dr. Hacker said.

"Some medications you can get by for a few days and it is not a big deal, but for people that are on blood pressure, heart medications and just can't do without it," said Cain. "That's where our main concern was."

The unit will be deployed to the area with the greatest need and Dr. Hacker says it will also be helpful at disaster shelters.

"We prepare for the worst and hope that it is never necessary, but if it is needed we have something that we think will make a significant improvement in our ability to respond to the next emergency," said Dr. Hacker.

"I hope we never see the 28 foot trailer," said Cain.

Only one of the mobile units exists right now, but Kentucky health officials are hoping to buy more in the future.

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