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Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County

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Disaster Preparedness for People with Chronic Diseases in Medically Under-resourced Communities

May 21 @ 12:00 pm - 12:50 pm


Wildfires, storms, floods, and other disasters cause disruptions in medication access, evacuations, and power outages for millions of people in America each year. Many people either take medication or have an ongoing medical condition, and survey findings suggest a significant portion of them would either have difficulty continuing their medications or finding support to help manage their illness during an emergency. When managed poorly, chronic conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease, can lead to medical crisis. Power is often interrupted during disasters, affecting storage for temperature-sensitive medications and electricity-powered medical equipment.

Led by Direct Relief staff, this workshop provides an overview of the impact of disasters on medically under-resourced communities and people with chronic diseases. This workshop has a broad approach intended for clinicians and other health center staff concerned about disaster preparedness. Participants will learn how patients, health centers, and pharmacies can better prepare for disasters.

At the end of the virtual workshop, participants will be able to:
• Understand the disproportionate impact of disasters on people with chronic diseases.
• Recognize which chronic diseases are commonly affected by disasters.
• Know ways to help patients and healthcare facilities prepare for disasters.
• Know resources patients and healthcare facilities can contact for assistance following a disaster.

Presented by Ruth Smarinsky, PharmD, Senior Advisor and Annie Vu, Associate Director of Charitable Pharmacy, Direct Relief


Complimentary for CCALAC Members and Affiliates

Register Now!


Instructor Biographies:

Ruth Smarinsky, PharmD, Senior Advisor, Direct Relief

Dr. Ruth Smarinsky has lectured to pharmacy students at Western University on disaster preparedness from a pharmacist perspective and to UCSF pharmacy students on career opportunities for pharmacists in the safety net. She has also given lectures at NAFC symposiums on ways to supply medications to uninsured patients. Currently, Ruth is the Senior Advisor at Direct Relief and previously served as the Director of Pharmacy and Clinical Affairs. Since 2006, Ruth has expanded programming domestically including the development of toolkits for preparedness and response for nonprofit partners. Further, she served on the state of Texas’ Blue Ribbon Task Force to better prepare for disasters. Prior to joining Direct Relief, Ruth was the Pharmacy Director and first on staff pharmacist at Venice Family Clinic.

Annie Vu, Associate Director of Charitable Pharmacy, Direct Relief

For the last eight years, Annie Vu has worked closely with community health centers, free clinics, and other safety-net facilities to provide ongoing support and resources to organizations impacted by emergencies. She has strong relationships and is a key partner that has served as a point of contact to partners by offering assistance, expediting shipments, resolving logistical challenges, gathering stories and feedback, and providing updates for internal/external communication.

Direct Relief aims to provide support efficiently and effectively, while recognizing that every community and event is unique. Projects led include two airlifts to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, extensive distribution of PPE and ICU kits during the pandemic, and pre-positioning caches of medicines and medical supplies ahead of hurricane season each year. Most recently, Annie has been supporting healthcare providers on Maui as they continue to recover and rebuild from the wildfires, which includes shipments of medicines and supplies, a vaccination campaign coordinated by the state department of health, and PPE kits for safe re-entry.



May 21
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm
Event Category: