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tv   Hurricanes and Public Health Preparedness Hearing  CSPAN  October 26, 2017 4:59am-7:39am EDT

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>> that was part of an hour-long interview on her recent book "what happened." you can find the full interview with book tv on our website tv. up next, a hearing to assess the federal government's public health preparedness for hurricane season. recent hurricanes caused major damage to parts of texas, florida, and puerto rico, which is the home to several drug manufacturers. whose facilities were severely damaged by the storm. the house energy and commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations heard from fda commissioner dr. scott gottlieb. it's 2 hours and 35 minutes. >> go ahead and get it started. thank you, everybody.
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appreciate it. we are here today to examine the department of health and human services public health preparedness for and response to the 2017 hurricane season. in the last two months, texas, florida, puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands have been devastated by hurricanes. i first want to express our heart-felt sorrow for the millions of americans impacted by these devastating storms, and say that all members of this committee on both sides of the aisle stand with those affected by these hurricanes. i would also like to thank dr. burgess and dr. ruiz who each recently visited puerto rico to assess the impact these hurricanes have had, and continue to have on our fellow americans. this committee has been conducting oversight of the federal response to the recent hurricanes since shortly after harvey made landfall in texas. unfortunately, i expect that our work here will continue for years to come.
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the committee's jurisdiction involves not just the public health issues we'll be discussing today, but also rebuilding the electrical grid, addressing environmental cleanup and restoring telecommunications, to name only a few. the people of puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands continue to face a long road to recovery, and many are living without power and running water. i believe we are going to be joined today by representative jennifer gonzalez collone from puerto rico. thank you for being here at this important hearing. from coordinating the overall federal health care response to ensuring that individuals have the medical treatment they need, to protecting the blood and pharmaceutical supply, to granting emergency waivers and everything in between, hhs has been working tirelessly to provide medical care, and services to individuals affected by the storms.
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the overwhelming majority of health care facilities in the impacted areas went above and beyond to protect and treat those in harm's way. yet media reports indicate that somehow care providers failed in their duty to protect their patients. there was a tragic situation at a nursing home in florida, where 14 residents died after the facility lost its air conditioning, and this despite a hospital across the street that never lost power, or cooling. the response in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands has involved numerous federal agencies working together with each other, and state and local officials. before hurricane maria made landfall in puerto rico and every day since, hhs, the department of defense, the department of veterans affairs, and fema have been working with local emergency response officials to provide medical care and help reestablish the health care infrastructure. hhs has worked with puerto
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rico's dialysis facilities and coordinated with femfema. similar efforts are ongoing in the u.s. virgin ids as well. has the agency been effective from the perspective of hhs? are the federal policies causing delays, in response efforts? are we utilizing our resources in the most efficient and effective ways to help our fellow americans in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands in particular. finally, it is critical that we understand the public health challenges ahead. as we have seen after hurricane harvey, there's an increased risk for the spread of infectious disease due to contaminated water. media reports indicate that one month after hurricane maria, over 1 million americans are still without clean, safe drinking water. rebuilding puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands will take years. the health care systems are in
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dire condition and most of the operational facilities need some degree of assistance. to make matters worse, the electrical grid has been devastated, which has significantly hampered recovery efforts. we still don't even know the full extent of the damage, let alone when our fellow citizens will have electricity and running water restored. we're trying to do everything possible to address the short and long-term needs of the area impacted by harvey, irma and maria, especially in the health results that resulted and will continue to result from these storms. i would like to thank the witnesses for testifying here today. and i look forward to hearing your testimony. and with that, i will now yield five minutes for an opening statement to miss degette, the ranking member from colorado. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. this 2017 hurricane season has been one of the most damaging on record. hurricane harvey broke the record for the greatest amount of rain recorded from a single tropical storm or hurricane in
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the united states. and inundated houston and south texas with more than 51 inches of rain. hurricane irma became the strongest atlantic hurricane on record, before it hit the virgin islands and florida. and while these storms have been devastating, hurricane maria's impact on puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands has been nothing less than catastrophic. mr. chairman, as you said, the scope of potential health risks that's caused by this ongoing crisis is still coming into focus, but it's clearly considerable. over a month after maria hit, the infrastructure on puerto rico and the virgin islands remains decimated. nearly 80% of puerto rico still doesn't have power. hhs reported that a substantial number of puerto rico's hospitals are either nonoperational or require generators in order to keep functioning. over a third of puerto rican residents lack reliable access
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to potable water. contaminated is spreading contagious diseases, and while i certainly appreciate the effort by volunteers, including physicians and nurses volunteering their time, with the hhs demat teams, i'm concerned poor management of the hurricane response at a federal level may be hindering response efforts. the federal government, i believe, probably does not have a complete picture of what health care challenges exist, because, frankly, most of the island of puerto rico lacks adequate communication. i think that this committee needs to hold further hearings to address the status of all these vital services that you, mr. chairman, talked about. and i even think as time goes on, we should have field hearings on puerto rico in particular, but also the virgin islands, as much of the recovery effort as you so accurately described involves the jurisdiction of this committee. i can't stress enough how
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important it is for us to send our staff down there to investigate this, and how important it is for members to go and investigate this. i was part of a group of members that went after hurricane katrina to new orleans to observe the recovery efforts. what we found through years of oversight on this subcommittee was that washington's understanding regarding the situation on the ground was very different than we were able to observe firsthand. when we went into the basement of charity hospital, we saw what happened to those records. when we had our field hearings, congresswoman blackburn was there and a bunch of the rest of us, and we saw what had happened to small business people down there in new orleans. you just cannot substitute for that, and as we begin to think about our public response as members of congress, we need to see what we're doing on the ground. mr. chairman, last week president trump said the
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administration deserves a ten for its response to the devastation of hurricane maria. given the fact that most residents lack power, nearly 1 million americans lack access to safe and reliable drinking water, and endless reports of near subsistence living for many, i find that statement to be breathtaking. i hope that our witnesses today are better prepared than that to talk about what's really happening on the ground, and what we can do to address this unfolding crisis. i hope it will be the beginning of an ongoing concerted effort to understand what's going on. and i would now like to yield the balance of my time to representative castor who wants to talk appropriately about the health challenges facing her state of florida. >> this simply was a catastrophic hurricane season. and we have so many challenges ahead. i want to thank our witnesses who are here today. i want to thank all of my colleagues for holding this
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hearing. hopefully this is just the first of many. because this is going to be a very long recovery period. after 75 lives lost in texas, 75 lives lost in florida, including 14 related to a nursing home that were completely avoidable. we need to discuss that. we know that we have about 50 deaths in puerto rico so far, with the threat of bacterial infections growing. i'm very concerned about puerto rico. and the whole interplay between the folks that live there, and the u.s. virgin islands, and their migration and what that means for the health needs of everyone. and on the island, the drinking water issue is simply critical. so i look forward to your expert today and the committee's work in the days ahead. thank you. yield back. >> gentle lady yields back. now recognizing the chairman of the full committee, mr. walden of oregon.
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>> i thank you, vice chairman, for holding this important hearing. i do, too, want to express my sympathy for those impacted by these horrible storms, particularly our citizens in puerto rico and the british virgin islands. we will assist in any way we can. we will continue to be diligent in our oversight that the agencies are doing and needs of the people there. i'm very pleased that dr. burgess who chairs our health subcommittee has already been to puerto rico, visited some of the hospitals, looked at the health care issues. we know we have much more work to do and we hope to hear from all of you today to see what's out there ahead, where we've made progress, where there are still problems we need to get better solutions to. today we're examining the department of health and human services 'continuing efforts in texas, florida, puerto rico and virgin islands. this is the first in a series of hearings on the preparedness for and responses to hurricanes harvey, irma and maria. in the coming weeks we'll also
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hold weeks before the subcommittees on these matters. this committee will be conducting oversight of the reed building in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands for years to come. the public health risk associated with natural disasters hold infectious diseases, long-term mental health trauma, just to name a few of the concerns we all need to be aware of. these risks can be particularly dangerous. especially for vulnerable populations such as infants, dialysis patients, individuals who may be immunosuppressed and, of course, the elderly. tragically we saw that in the aftermath of hurricane irma where 14 elderly residents of the rehabilitation center in florida lost their lives as a result of heat induced deaths after the air conditioning system failed during the storm. last week, this committee sent a
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bipartisan letter to the nursing home's owner, requesting information on the facility's emergency preparedness plan, inspection history and the steps it took to protect residents after its air conditioning system stopped working. while the three major hurricanes to impact the united states in 2017, continue to present their own unique challenges, many of the protocols that are necessary to conduct an effective public health response are immutable. federal agencies responding to disasters must be able to communicate effectively with each other and with local, state and territorial officials to identify any areas of need, ensuring that individuals have adequate access to basic necessities, such as food, water and medical supplies, critical in any public health protection effort. as we head into a recovery phase, it's important we also carefully monitor patients as they transition from hospitals or under medical supervision back to their homes rather than
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long-term living arrangements. news reports indicate more than 60% of puerto ricans are now homeless. we need to make sure that when patients are discharged from the hospitals, that they have safe places to go. and don't end up on the streets and back into the hospital. however, following hurricane maria, various media reports called into question whether the federal government is adequately meeting its obligation to conduct health and welfare of american citizens in puerto rico and virgin islands. i'm here to gain the perspective of the witnesses who have been on the ground in the areas that have been affected by the most recent hurricanes. making sure that americans in need get the assistance they require cannot and should not be a partisan matter. certain agencies aren't pulling their weight, we want to know. if there are federal laws or policies that are impeding the recovery efforts, we want to know as well. in addition, we also want to hear about any best practices that can be gleaned from the ongoing recovery efforts, utilized in response to any
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future natural disaster. again, thanks to you and your teams for being on the ground trying to do the best you can in these horrible circumstances. we really need to know the facts, what's working, what's not, where there have been shortfalls, what are the lessons learned and where did you need additional help to help our citizens. with that, mr. vice chair, i yield back the balance of my time and look forward to the testimony of our witnesses. before i do that, i'd also like to welcome our newest member to the committee, mr. duncan. just approved by the house conference this morning, steering committee last night, replacing dr. murphy. and jeff, we're delighted to have you onboard the committee. thanks for being here today. i yield back. >> now recognizing mr. pallone of new jersey. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for holding this hearing on this critical issue. i hope that this hearing is the first of many hurricane related hearings, as congress needs to hear further from hhs and other
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agencies in the recovery efforts in all of the affected areas. i would also like to take a moment to recognize the federal, state and local responders who are working hard to address the many public health issues which exist as response and recovery continues in all of the areas that were impacted by these three major hurricanes. i know firsthand of the tragic devastation caused by such immense natural disasters. in 2012, my district was hit hard by hurricane sandy of the i've never seen worse storm damage in our area in my lifetime. many of the storm was the worst case scenario, lost lives, homes flooded and businesses lost. the fifth anniversary is coming up this weekend and we still have a lot of people that are not back in their homes or their businesses. our nation is now experiencing historic levels of destruction and loss in puerto rico and the virgin islands, as well as in florida, texas and along the gulf coast in the wake of hurricanes maria, irma and harvey. while no two natural disasters alike, there are unique needs
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and challenges. congress continues to address the response in florida and texas, we must also work to ensure that puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands receive the full and immediate support of the federal government as they recover. i recognize there are a number of ongoing challenges facing the residents of south florida in the gulf coast. much of the hearing today will likely need to address the situation in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands. the reports coming from these areas indicate that hundreds of thousands of americans continue to struggle to meet day-to-day needs. i'm particularly concerned there are still reports that residents do not have access to food or medicine. as many as 1 million americans lack reliable sources to clean water. the accounts from the areas affected by the storms paint a dire situation that completely contradict often rosy stories that come from the president and the white house. hurricanes irma and maria caused widespread flooding and destruction in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands.
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virtually all residents of puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands have been impacted and the failures create acute public health issues. we've seen and heard reports of death, dehydration and desperation as they continue to struggle where fundamental health needs need to be addressed. the list of serious needs and challenges is long. many hospitals still do not have reliable power. many communities in puerto rico still lack safe drinking water. people have resorted to drinking from questionable water service. residents are still unsure if the water is safe in the areas where they've been restored. the tests for water quality, they're arriving to learn they are still lacking adequate food and drinking water. we need to restore and rebuild and i hope our witnesses today will help us understand what needs to be improved in the
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response and recovery efforts so that congress can more effectively provide assistance and understanding impacts on public health, not just today but in the months and years to come. i want to say something about the fact that many puerto ricans are naturally coming from the island to our states. particularly in new jersey, and my district. my mayors and my elected officials locally are saying, you know, is there any kind of help for us? because a lot of these people come here, they don't have a lot of money, they need support as well. that's also something we need to look into. i'd like to yield the remainder of my time to mr. greene. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i thank my colleague for yielding to me. our district in houston in harris county was heavily impacted by hurricane harvey. we had eight deaths in the area of houston. heroism and tireless work of our first responders, public health
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professionals, community members helping fellow texans during the time in need. i would also like to thank my colleagues for supporting our two supplementals so far, and there will be much more for not just texas, but louisiana, florida, puerto rico, the virgin islands, and a number of other disasters. the state of texas and cms need to work together to make sure we're taking advantage of every opportunity to help people in need, especially when it comes to medicaid. i hope cms will act expeditiously to help uninsured disaster victims. we shifted to recovery in houston and texas gulf coast. including the spread of mold and flooded homes, businesses and spread of disease carrying mosquitoes. we must also be fully responsive to the environmental impact of harvey, including community members' possible exposure to toxic chemicals and waste water.
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i look forward to working with our health agencies to address these pressing concerns. and our office in houston, we're still -- we do a lot of case work on typically social security, medicare, veterans, you name it. now every staff member has case work with fema because it goes through the process. we're working through it, again, with our federal agencies, helping us to make sure we can get people back to where they were before the storm. i yield back my time. >> i yield back as well, mr. chairman. >> thank the gentleman. i ask unanimous consent that the members' written opening statements be made a part of the record. without objection, they will be entered into the record. and that congress members not on the committee be permitted to participate in today's hearing. without pooks, so ordered. further, just so everybody knows what we're doing, mr. duncan has
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joined the committee, and the subcommittee, and we're glad to have him on our subcommittee. however, until a formal motion is made on the floor at approximately 12:30, the parliamentarians tell us we have to treat him as a member of the energy and commerce committee but not yet on the subcommittee on oversight investigations. so he will be treated by all the members in that circumstance, which means he will go last. as the newest member of the committee, he would go last anyway. >> we're just rubbing it. >> yeah, we're just rubbing it. i wanted to let everybody else know what the status is, so when they hear a motion later today on the floor, they will understand what the parl a men tar yans have told us to do. welcome to the committee and subcommittee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i assume he knows his other responsibilities for all the committee members getting each of us coffee. >> we have heard tale of these. >> that's correct. >> we'll make sure he's aware of
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those duties, mr. chairman. finally, we welcome nonmembers who may show up at a later time. members not on the committee are able to attend our hearings and we're glad to have them. but are not permitted to ask questions. i would like now to introduce our panel of witnesses for today's hearing. first, we have the honorable robert kadlec with the department of health and human services. welcome. next is the honorable scott gottlieb who serves with the u.s. food and drug administration. welcome. then we have miss kimberly brandt, for centers of medicare and medicaid services. welcome. and finally, we have rear admiral stephen redd who is the director of the office of public health prepared and response for
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the centers for disease control and prevention. thank you all for being here today. and providing testimony. we are looking forward to the opportunity to examine the preparedness for and responses to the recent hurricanes. now, as a part of the -- of what we do in this committee, we're holding an investigative hearing, and in doing so it has been the practice of this subcommittee to take testimony under oath. do any of you have objection to testifying under oath? seeing none. the chair then advises you that under the rules of the house and the rules of the committee, you're entitled to being companied by counsel. do any of you wish to be attended by counsel? seeing none. in that case, if you would please rise and raise your right hand, i will swear you all in. do you swear that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? hearing affirmative answers from all, i appreciate it. thank you very much.
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you are now under oath and subject to the penalties set forth in title 18 section 1001 of the united states code. you may now give a five-minute summary of your written statement. obviously we'll begin with the honorable mr. kadlec. >> good morning, vice chairman, ranking member degette and members of the subcommittee. it is a privilege to appear before you to talk about the response to the unprecedented and nearly simultaneous category 4 and 5 hurricanes this season. hhs and i would include the cms, fda and cdc as well as the interagency partners of fema, dhs, ea and dod have pushed the boundaries in unprecedented ways to save lives and support the communities of people impacted by these major hurricanes. i recognize in some regions in puerto rico and virgin islands, people are still facing dire conditions. i recently saw that for myself
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in the devastation firsthand. and can assure you that hhs continues our response at 110%, and will continue to work as hard as we can until conditions improve. since this is my first time testifying before this committee as the asper, i'll begin a brief description of my view on the role of this position. it was created almost 11 years ago in response to hurricane katrina by the hazard preparedness act. its objective was to create unity of command by consolidating all hhs public health functions under one person. i had the privilege of serving as a staff director of the subcommittee that drafted this legislation. the mission is simply to save lives and protect america from health security threats. on behalf of hhs, it leads the public health and medical response to disasters and public health emergencies in accordance with the national response
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framework. today the threats facing our country are increasingly diverse and more lethal. my objective is to improve response capabilities from the 21st century threats. i aim to do that through four areas. first provide strong leadership, second create a national disaster health care system, third, sustain robust and reliable public health security capabilities, and finally, advance innovative medical development. hurricanes harvey, irma, maria, nearly simultaneous severity created unique challenges. especially in puerto rico, no place, no person, no life was untouched. during my trip there, i was overwhelmed by the resilience of its citizens, who are making do in an extraordinarily difficult situation. the three major hurricanes to date are three fold. first, save lives. second, stabilize the health care system. third, restore health care services.
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in puerto rico, we're still responding. in other areas, recovery is under way. here are the many actions taken by the partners. in order to save lives, asper deployed more than 2,500 personnel from 21 states and hundreds of other federal employees, including u.s. public health service commission personnel to the communities impacted by these storms. in fact, in each of these storms we deployed teams even before the hurricanes made landfall, so they were ready to respond immediately. we cared for more than 15,000 patients in the states and territories, and more than 10,700 in puerto rico alone. hhs has also sent 439 tons of medical equipment and supplies to the affected areas. hhs declared public health emergencies for the states and territories before landfall of each storm. we empowered the power tool to
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identify medicaid/medicare patients to assist in medical equipment as well as people who rely on dialysis and health home services. we evacuated more than 200 dialysis patients from the u.s. virgin islands. personnel joined urban rescue teams to locate and evacuate dialysis patients. and enacted the emergency prescription programs which provides free medications to disaster victims who cannot afford to play. and deployed health teams in partnership with smsa, helping with the psychological effects of these storms. i'd like to show you a map, you can see it on your screen, and you have paper copies in front of you. this illustrates the comprehensive approach to providing health care and medical services. together with our interagency partners at the v.a. and dod as well as the puerto rico health
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department. my overview of activities we took on behalf of americans in distress is just a fraction of what we actually did. i have not and could not speak to all the work that hhs disaster medical assistance teams and public health service core personnel did. they're true american heroes who left their families, their medical and clinical practices to render aid. we're committed to the long recovery period ahead. we reflect on this experience by comprehensive after-action review to find ways to improve our capacity to respond to future public health emergencies. i thank you again for this opportunity to address these issues. and i'm happy to answer any questions that you may have. >> thank you very much. now five minutes for an opening statement for -- >> thank you, mr. chairman, and members of the subcommittee. i appreciate the invitation to discuss the response to
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hurricanes harvey, irma and maria. my remarks will focus on puerto rico, because of the unique role fda has in the island's recovery and because of the enormous magnitude of the devastation that maria caused to my fellow citizens. first and foremost, our commitment is to the people of puerto rico. as they begin the long recovery from the overwhelming devastation. but fda also has a broader mission in puerto rico. a substantial portion of the island's economic base is comprised of facilities that manufacture medical products. this includes men critical medical products. there are currently more than 30 medical device manufacturing plants in puerto rico. they produce more than 1,000 different kinds of devices. to date we're especially focused on about 50 types of medical devices manufactured by about ten firms in puerto rico. these devices are critically important to patient care, because they may be life sustaining or life supporting. the island may be the only manufacturing site of these devices. at the same time we're focused
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on about 30 different medically important drugs and by oh logics that are produced on this island. they're manufactured only in puerto rico. to avert shortages of critical medical products, we've been working closely with our partners at fema, dhs and hhs to get fuel for generators and raw ingredients, as well as the logistics to move finished products off the island. our interventions have evolved as the nature of the risk has changed and our response progresses. early on, we helped individual firms to help planes carry off products that were risked at being destroyed by flooding warehouses. we started to get more actively involved in helping facilities to carry diesel fuel for generators. in the last week, we've been actively engaged in helping a few facilities to manufacture products critical to the blood
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supply, to secure small quantities of gas that they use in the manufacturing processes. as the recovery efforts proceed, a lot of these challenges are being solved through better logistics. that's the good news. we have processes in place now that are helping guarantee supply of diesel fuel, raw manufacturing ingredients, and medical gases and other critical components. but there will be other challenges that rise as this crisis evolves. the one that concerns us the most is the long-term power. many generators weren't meant to function for months on end. a lot of facilities can't return to full production on generator power alone. most are producing 20% to 70% of their normal capacity based on our survey. they won't be able to resume full production until they get back on the power grid. if they don't return to the grid, by the end of this year, we're concerned we could face multiple potential shortages, unless we can also help these facilities temporarily shift more of their manufacturing off
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the island. with my remarks, i'd like to give you a perspective on the human factor that we're seeing every day, where we see the island's residents taking often heroic steps of keeping critical products flowing and where the firms that manufacture these items are taking their own extraordinary steps as good corporate citizens to support these efforts. if we're going to avert major product shortages, it's going to be a consequence of these efforts. i want to take note of these activities and support them. first and foremost, i want to take note of the americans who reside in puerto rico. the medical product industry directly employs about 90,000 puerto ricans. if we do avert critical shortages, it will be primarily because of our fellow citizens who returned to their post at this critical time, even as their own families were displaced. we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. even as we've watched some
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companies take extraordinary efforts to maintain their production, they support the employees and their families and workers, and direct assistance to those harmed by maria. many of these facilities are serving as disaster relief stations across the island, helping distribute fema aid to the outlying towns, companies are distributing gasoline to their employees and items like water, food and batteries. they're using their kaf tcafete to feed their employees and families. hundreds of relief items have been shipped by air. some of these programs include cash grants or match donations they accept from employees across the globe, as a way to help puerto rico employees rebuild their homes. i want to take a moment to recognize these efforts. these kinds of commitments are going to be a key part of
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helping puerto rico fully recover. we all need to do our part. most of all, i want to recognize the resilience of the people of puerto rico, and their fidelity to our public health commission. we owe the island's residents our steadfast and long-term commitment to a full recovery. thanks a lot. >> i thank you for your testimony. now i recognize miss brandt for a five-minute opening statement. >> thank you. thank you for the opportunity to discuss efforts by the centers for medicare and medicaid services to respond to the recent hurricanes. cms plays an integral role during these natural disasters. i have almost 20 years of experience working on medicare and medicaid issues, and even with that perspective, i was surprised at the depth and breadth in fema's response to the efforts. its eevidence that even here
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today, the administrator is in puerto rico gaining valuable insights from patients, providers and local officials. many people think of cms as delivering to our over 100 million medicare, medicaid and c.h.i. c.h.i.p. beneficiaries. we do have a direct impact on the care they receive, and the last several weeks allowed cms to demonstrate the important role we can play in emergency preparedness and response efforts. one of cms's most important tools is to waive certain requirements. which cms can do after the president declares a national disaster. cms is using the full breadth of this authority to ensure our beneficiaries have the access to the care they need by providing flexibility to medicare and medicaid providers so they can deliver high-quality care to those who need it, when they
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need it and where they need it. we use waivers to allow medicare providers to move patients between facilities and administer care to at native locations. already, we have approved nearly 100 waivers in total. across the impacted disaster areas. last month, i joined administrator verma to houston, texas, where we were able to speak to several of those impacted including beneficiaries and provides who demonstrated what they were to them following emergencies. we want ben fishsaries and providers to provide urgent care without worrying about reimbursement policies. we heard what a difference this flexibility makes. that is why cms talking with stakeholders in all of the impacted areas on an ongoing basis to make sure we understand their needs and able to meet them. one of the top priorities is to provide access to the most vulnerable groups, dialysis
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patients. one of the ways we have done this is using our authority to temporarily designate dialysis facilities located in places impacted by the locations that are not yet certified to serve a special purpose so they can provide care for medicare beneficiaries. we were able to designate one of these facilities in florida before the storm hit, to ensure that patients were di allized in anticipation of the storm. in puerto rico, in the u.s. virgin islands, cms is working closely with the kidney community response program to monitor conditions, during and after the storms, to predict and assess the impact to these extremely fragile patients. here are two examples of our combined efforts. under the direction of one of our commission corps members, we're working to daily track the status of the dialysis facilities in puerto rico with respect to fuel, water and other
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supplies. as well as developing delivery schedules for those supplies necessary for the facilities to treat the nearly 6,000 dialysis patients on the island. cms also partnered with several of our federal and local partners to support approximately 120 dialysis patients evacuated from the u.s. virgin islands in atlanta when the conditions were no longer safe. this included with working with staff on the ground to greet and medically assess each patient as they arrived. unfortunately, they recent events will nobody the last. making sure providers are prepared for future disasters, whether hurricane, wildfire or disease pandemic is essential to ensuring patient safety. that is why cms requires all medicare and medicaid facilities comply with basic health and safety requirements, including emergency preparedness standards, which we updated last fall. the updates included more co comprehensive approach to emergency planning to more thoroughly address the hazards. in addition, we required
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facilities to meet additional emergency training standards for staff and implement a communication system to contact patients, physicians and other necessary persons to assure continuation of patient care functions. while much has been done, there's still much to be done, particularly in puerto rico, where over 50% of the population is covered through a cms program. together, we must continue to think creatively about all the ways we can help ensure our beneficiaries have access to needs, cares, supplies and prescriptions. we appreciate the subcommittee's interest in these efforts and look forward to working with you throughout the recovery process. >> thank you very much for your testimony. and now recognize rear admiral redd for five minutes for an opening statement. >> good morning, vice chairman griffith, and distinguished members of the committee. i am director of the centers for disease control and prevention office of public health preparedness and response.
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i appreciate the opportunity to be here today to discuss the efforts and activities in response to the 2017 hurricanes. redd, redd, captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2008 public health preparedness and response. opportunity toe effortstoday and discss and activities in response to the 2017 hurricane. thsedress the impact of
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hurricanes has provided public health supportto coordinated, federal, state, territorial and tribal responses. the focus of the efforts have been in epidemiology and surveillance, laboratory support, environmental and occupational health and health communications. on august 30,2017, cdc activated emergency operation center to coordinate our response to hurricane harvey and subsequently we haveexpanded that activation to include hurricanes irma and maria.since the end of august cdc has had approximately 500 staffmembers supporting the response. we have deployed over 70 staff to the areas to provide on the ground support including34 to puerto rico and 12 to the u.s. virgin islands. to address immediate health concerns, cdc deployed federal medical stations to serve as temporary, nonacute medical care facilities. each federal medical station can accommodate up to 250patients and includes cache of medical supplies and equipment.hhs deploys medical teams to staff these facilities and cdc has deployed six of these to puerto rico, four to texas and two to florida. cdc has used surveillance to monitor health-related data that may signal disease outbreak.
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our national syndromic surveillance program has collaborated with disaster medical assistance teams to collect data on patient encounters and works closely with the american red cross to monitor data on shelter population so that health officials can respond quickly when that is called for. surveillance during this response has indicated elevations in carbon monoxide poisoning. identifying and controlling public health, diseases ofpublic health importance in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands are a priority. the puerto rico department of health sustained significant damage during hurricane maria including damage to their laboratories. these laboratories are not able to conduct any public health tests. they are not able toconfirm diagnosis of infectious or
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environmental diseases. cdc is working to get the laboratories back in operation. in the meantime we have arranged for packaging and shipment of clinical specimens of suspected priority infectious diseases such as tbuberculosis for testing. the first shipment of diagnostic specimens recently arrived in atlanta. let me touch briefly on a few other components of our response. we have provided technical assistance to the effected areas to address health issues such as food safety, water issues including sewage. we have provided guidance on injury prevention from debris and drowning. we helped with shelter assessments. we have provided guidance regarding safety of responders and weh ave developed and dissim
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sated key public health mess messages. cdc recognizes that the full recovery from therecent hurricanes will take time particularly in puerto rico and the virgin islands where the damage has been extensive. we are here to continue to provide that support. thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you to discuss our response and recovery efforts. i would be glad to answer any questions you might have. >> thank you all very much for your testimony. i will now begin questioning by recognizing chairman of the full committee for five minutes for questions. >> thank you, vice chairman. i thank all of you for your testimony and the work that the people that you represent are doing in these terrible
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tragedies. we all know there is more to be done and it is hard in the aftermath to get it right. and we sure appreciate what you are doing. on behalf of the at large commissioner from puerto rico, thank you for joining us today. i know you are not able to ask questions as part of our committee rules, but i can on your behalf. so i appreciate your submitting some of these because i think they are really important to get on the record. i am going to start with you, puerto rico remains in the response mode of saving lives and stabilizing health care services. what major mile stones must becompleted to go from response phase to recovery phase? i think it has been highlighted by members of the committee the power situation on the island does represent significant limitation. right now we have about 60% of the 67 hospitals that are on the power grid and have reliable power. but there are 36%, total of 24, that still do not.
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because some of them have -- it is again working with fema closely and the army corps of engineers. we performed assessment of those whichals so we can decide ones need physical repair. there are also issues that relate to supply chain restoration, things like oxygen which i think is a matter of topical interest. >> thank you. rather admiral, thank you again for being here. dengue branch being used? ngue branch and puerto rico is being utilized during this recovery effort.
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it was affected just like every other location in where to rico. as of october 10, the laboratory in operation was functioning at a low level under generator power right now. so i think it is more in the affected response own at this point. >> the department of public health labs, to date the labs are not able to conduct any public health testing, including the ability to to diagnose infectious disease. in their absence, would it is happening to do this kind of lab work? >> yes, sir. so, restoring power is the first step. there is work with our record to identify the generator capacity necessary to bring the laboratories back up to power. there will be a second level of effort to determine what equipment can be salvaged and
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what equipment cannot be salvaged. we do not know the results of that assessment until the powers back. sometime. be >> you don't know the timeline on power? >> i think with generators we are talking about weeks at the must. >> that they will be running on generators? i guess. maybe less than that. so i cannot say back on the great but i can say the labs aould be back operational and short time. meantime, we are working with the department of health and puerto rico two ships westminster atlanta for testing. that is where the first shipment has been shipped. >> are you comfortable, perhaps it is to you and others on the panel at that kind of arrangement, to do the love testing will stop is that quick enough? adequate enough? >> certainly not optimal but i think it is the best we can do at this point in time. i think what we really need to back upving those tests
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to full speed. >> but if it is going to be weeks, is there a temporary sort of lab that can be flown in there? >> we had quite a bit of discussion on that. i think in general, the feeling is that getting specimens to atlanta for testing is going to be actually, since it is not going to be a very, very prolonged time this is a temporary measure. not optimal but best under the circumstances. >> uvula works? >> yes, sir. >> my time is expired. >> thank you mr. chairman for the hearing and thank you for your testimony. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you so much mr. chairman. i just wanted to remind the panel, you all know very well it has now been over a month since maria hit both the u.s. virgin
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islands and puerto rico. even now, there is just an article in the "new york times" today which is entitled "like going back in time, puerto ricans but survival skills to use." it is a powerful article. it talks about how people still don't have power. they are eating canned roots. elderly people are afraid to go outside because of gangs. and, what it talks about is the way everybody is helping themselves, the neighbors are bonding together. there is a fellow, the director of a local nonprofit, who said most of the a to the neighborhood, which appears to be in san juan, not in the remote mountains, had receivers from private citizens and celebrities" the government has not arrived here or goat
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as i mentioned to my opening remarks, having been on this subcommittee when we investigated and trina, it is wonderful to read back on what we have done but it is more important to think about how quickly we can do more and what we can do to improve our efforts in the future. i just want to remind everybody, listening to a lot of this testimony you would think that everything was just as well. i hope none of you intended to intimate that. i know we will have a lot of questions about that but commissioner, i wanted to hone in with you about your testimony because as you said, there are a being drugs and devices produced and puerto rico. 13 drugs only produced and puerto rico. in zechariah? >> there are more than hurting. naturey somewhere in the of 40 sol-source drugs but only 14 that we think are critical insofar as they are medical
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important and we could not find a therapeutical term to focus on 14 products. -- most of those plants are >> most of those plants are relying on generator, right? >> right. i believe most are reliant on generators. >> i think you testified that this is not a long-term solution. as i write? >> on his right, congressman. there are some facilities that have substantial generators that can probably operate for a sustained time. >> went to mean by that? could perhapsm operate indefinitely by that is the exception. most will not be able to operate for a sustained time. if we get into the first quarter of the next year and these facilities are not back on the grid, we're going to have some
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concerns. where trying to think now how we can work with hhs and the army corps of engineers to predatory prioritizeful -- to a handful of facilities that are critical. reasons you have concerns are too-full. number one, generators to produce the kind of energy they .to produce these number two, even if you can produce it, it is probably going to be a reduced supply. in most cases, these facilities cannot operate at 100% on these generators. another point is, the generators themselves are going to start to break down. these were not met to operate like this. >> that is right. let me ask you come on friday released a statement that said the fda is monitoring types of medical devices manufactured and
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puerto rico critically important to patient care including everything from insulin pumps to pacemakers. is this the kind of problems we are seeing with drug manufacturers? >> yes. a similar challenge. in some cases, device manufacturing is more energy-dependent and him facilities themselves need a more reliable flow from the grid. facilities gets put back in the great, if the grid itself is unreliable they might prefer to stay on generator power for a longer time. feeding offt dual the ground. so it could be a while before they get the connection to the grid that they need. >> mr. chairman, let me just say it and in that he has concerns, this is impacting all american families. daughter, who is a type one diabetic just got a letter from an tronic sang her new insulin
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was not going to arrive because we're having and puerto rico. so this is impacting every american, not just the americans u.s. virgin islands and puerto rico. i would like to ask unanimous consent to put that new york times article and to the record. >> without objection, so ordered. i know recognize the vice-chairman of the full committee, mr. barton, from texas. for questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. my personaltend welcome to our newest member, mr. duncan. he is an outstanding member of the republican baseball team i manage. sure he will do just as good a job if not a better job on the kmt h committee. and you have you. i know the primary focuses puerto rico and the virgin islands, but we had a hurricane in texas, too.
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moree a little bit developed as a state, so our ability to endure it was possibly somewhat stronger. there ared that, still issues in texas. first question i think will be to mr. redd. -- e are lots in a normal year, there was a lot of mosquitoes in the houston area but given the amount of weer that was sustained and still have not had a freeze, so we still have that issue. corporation, if any, has your agency had on helping to minimize that problem in the houston area specifically but the gulf coast generally? >> yes. we operate as part of the
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combined federal response here. we have work with dod through systema-managed response to provide advice on what kind of mosquito control efforts would be most appropriate. and we have worked with that system. so we have not actually been spraying ourselves but we provide that expertise on mosquitoes. >> as far as you know there is not an issue of not enough disinfectant -- insecticide? >> this is a problem that happens virtually after every hurricane which has a rain element to it. the types of mosquitoes that follow a hurricane typically are not the ones that transmit disease. there is pretty much a standard approach to that went cdc providing technical advice. andproviding equipment
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actually doing the spraying in consultation with the local mosquito control districts. >> similar question. this would be to the doctor. of medicare patients in and manylf coast area, of them have had to go to hospitals for treatment. under current regulations, does to have the authority reimburse these hospitals for the emergency treatment of medicare >> sir, since we have a representative from cms, i'll ask miss brennan to -- >> that's my fault. >> no problem, sir. thank you. we are currently working with state officials to work with them on uncompensated care issues andto develop a plan so
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we can make sure to appropriately reimburse those providers. is there anything -- providers. >> is there anything the state of texas needs to supply cms to get that put together fairly quickly? >> currently working with state officials for multi-state 1115 waiver to allow them to request federal matching dollars for uncompensated care pool. that would be for those people who have been displaced or need to receive care within the disaster area. so we are working with the state and hope for complete that in the foreseeable future. >> i'm the co-chairman of the texas congressional delegation harvey task force. my democrat co-chairman is henry. if there is anything that delegation needs to do, if you would let his office, or my office know we'll make sure you , get the information you want. >> we will certainly do so. we'll keep you apprised of that, sir. >> thank you. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back.
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now recognize chairman of the full committee, from new jersey. >> thank you. at a recent press event in puerto rico trump said he would give his administration a ten on its response efforts in puerto rico. i have to be honest with you what i hear from my mayors and council people and people coming into my district from puerto rico, i would give at best a two on a scale of one to 10. my concern is as i expressed a little in my opening statement, people are -- this isn't only an issue of what's happening on the island but also the people coming to the united states that have needs. i don't think they would be coming here if they weren't -- if they were able to stay in puerto rico. just as an example i'm looking at home news, which is my daily in new brunswick, one of the towns in my district, when the puerto rican governor visited with president donald trump on thursday to ask for aid, he
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said that without immediate help from the united states to rebuild the island, there would be a mass exodus to the mainland of the united states. and then we have a professor at rutgers, which is my district, who said the number of puerto ricans who will move to the garden state will likely spike once people determine they cannot stay on the island longer if power and access to running water, food, and medicare do not improve. i obviously would likepeople to -- like people to come here if they can't get basic necessities on the island. this is -- the fact that the president would call this a ten is absurd, in my opinion. so let me start with you, dr., recent reports indicate nearly 80% of the americans on the island are without electricity. one mayor reported his city's ambulances had to respond to at least four calls where a patient who lost power for oxygen tanks or vents later had died.
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other reports state hospitals have had to take in patients from medical centers where generators have failed. i'll tell you, when we had sandy, i think our power was out for two weeks and it was impossible. i can't imagine going for months without power. so lack of electricity has created serious risk to the health of american citizens in puerto rico. would you agree with that? >> sir, the hole society there. so the answer is yes, there is a risk to the people. >> i appreciate your honest response. last friday cnn report add million americans on the island, about 35% of all residents still lack access to running water. i understand that without attica drinking water or safe running hygiene,provide basic affected populations run the risk of serious gastrointestinal related diseases. again, with sandy i only went a couple days without a shower and couldn't deal with it.
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so let me ask dr. -- i guess dr. redd, would you agree if feerl a million americans lack access to reliable clean water that this poses a major health concern? >> yes, sir. >> this morning an article in new york times described the situation in puerto rico going back in time. reportedgazine" breakdown in electricity and telecommunications systems had pushed puerto rico, and i quote, back a century or so. just yesterday the fcc reported nearly 70% of the island cell phone towers are still out of service. again, lack of communication, lack of cell towers. you cannot even address emergencies if you can't communicate. let me go back to you, doctor. would you agree that a functioning communication system is also a functioning component to reaching and communicating with puerto ricans to ensure health care needs are met? sir, it is. we've done lots to ensure we have positive communication on the island either by radio, cell communication or land line.
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we have really worked hard to maintain. we actually deployed national guardsmen with nash -- with satellite phones when there was no self-service on the island. taking sure we could keep positive contact. to your point about the generator, that's a fair one. quite frankly, sir we've created , a whole system to basically address that. in fact, when i was there the first week after thestorm, one of the hospitals where one of our dmat teams waslocated, co-located lost generator power. they had several patients in intensive care unit, a couple having surgery at the time, they able to transport those patients safely without loss of life. not only to shelters where dmat teams were but transfer them through ambulances, medevac helicopters. to that point, we have gone to extraordinary steps to basically help -- >> i appreciate it. let me issue one thing as the time runs out.
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the president said it was a ten, i gave it a two. would you give me anumber between one and ten. >> i'm not in the business to give you marks but i can tell you we're working 110% even today to help those people, help our fellow americans on an island. i appreciate that. -- island. >> i appreciate that. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you so much. now recognize gentlelady of indiana miss brooks for questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to all of our panel members for being here. dr. kadlec want to talk more about national disaster system you've described. i know you've only been on the job for a few months now. in fact, how many months on the job? >> 60 days. >> 60 days. a tough 60 days. >> it's been a baptism. >> are there -- obviously you were very familiar with the organization prior to becoming in charge. are there reforms to the national disaster medical system that you are already
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considering, or are there challenges you have already faced, whether it's on the deployment, whether it is on the number of resources you have or the authorities you have? if so, what are they? >> ma'am, all the above. i think one of the things this event demonstrated because of the extraordinary nature, to the representatives point, to go down there and see the devastation is pretty extraordinary. i've made five combat tours in iraq and inever saw anything like what i saw in puerto rico, number one. number two is, that would kind of simulate when we probablyexpect when we had nuclear detonation without fire orradiation. so the physical destruction to that island, as i said, affected everyone. the psychological and physiological effects are pretty extraordinary. to that point, we werestretched in terms of our dmat capabilities to deploy. i give a lot of credit to those physicians, paramedics, pharmacists in your states who deployed down there on numerous occasions.
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we had people at colorado who were at harvey, irma and now maria. the answer is we probably need creative thinking. how to do that, we worked well with 3 a.m. puerto rico. probably with dod we need to work better. there are a lot of things we need to do to remove us toencies that require do mother may eyes for transportation. we probably need larger supply capability. we need to move things faster and better. that said, we deployed before landfall. we had 150 people from ourdmat teams in san juan riding out that storm. we have extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. from your jurisdictions, they are american heroes. we probably don't give them enough credit and certainly don't give them enough resources. >> dr. kadlec with authorities,
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been clear as to who is actually in charge of the response efforts or do there need to be additional operational capabilities provided? >> ma'am, thanks something we're going to do after. i think we do pretty well but could do better, work with your staff to identify those things. remove dependencies, mother may i,ambulances, air, transportation, a variety of things we need to resolve. >> thank you. miss brandt, again, i have some questions also provided by representative gonzales. apparently, prior to hurricane maria, according to my -- it has been a challenge to medical. according to my collie, almost
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-- colleague, almost a physician a day would leave the island, would not bepracticing an effected number of specialists left the territory. how is that impacting long-term and short-term recoveryefforts. -- recovery efforts? i actually received communication from a constituent of mine whose cousin was a specialist overseas at the time that it hit, and she had difficulties getting back onto the island to help her people. so what is cms doing relative to the physician retention issue? >> thank you for the question. that is something that cms is very concerned about and very aware of. in terms of the retentioneffort -- retention issue, we've been working department of health on the island and seeing what flexibilities we could do administratively to lift requirements that would make it easier for people to stay on the island or work with them to see what other types of programs we have that would provide incentives for physicians and other medical personnel on the island. but ultimately that is a decision by the government of the island.
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in terms of allowing people to come in to assist with the efforts on the island, especially in wake of what has happened, we have waived many different regulations and other authorities that we have that would have limited out of state or out of territory in this particular instance providers to be able to come in and providecare and working with department of health on the island to see what else we can do to ensure they have access to as many personnel as we can get them. >> thank you for flexibility. my time it's up. >> thank you, gentlelady. we recognize gentlelady from florida, miss caster, five minutes for questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. over a month later folks in florida and all across the country are still reeling from the avoidable deaths in nursing facilities in florida. there are now criminal cases, civil cases. we're trying to figure out why in the heck florida's governor
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has deleted voicemails that came directly from the center to his cell phone. there is an important back story here. in 2005 after hurricane katrina and 215 deaths in nursing homes there, cms and everyone determined many skilled nursing centers are not prepared. you went into rule development to try to ensure that there would be an alternative power source available. it will bed that november when a cms rule relating to alternative power sources for skilled nursing centers will come into being, will become effective. why has it taken so long and are you confident that it will do what we need to do? i want to recognize my colleague congressman wasserman schulz thinklorida and think --
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the florida delegation that has been pressing this issue as well. >> first of all, let me just state from cms's perspective, we share everyone's concern about the tragedy that happened at hollywood hills. that's an event that should not have occurred. from the cms perspective our first and ultimate priority is ensuring we have patient safety and patient protection at every one of the facilities that accepts medicare and medicaid beneficiaries. with respect to the rule itself, to clarify the rule went into , effect last year. we'll begin serving against it in the rule actually went into november. effect last year. it's just the actual surveys against it will go into effect starting next month. however, it -- month. however, it is something that we think does go a long way towards addressing a lot of theconcerns that have been raised by hollywood hills. in light of the event we want to continue to look at it to see if we can domore. -- do more. some of the things it does that were pointed out as part of the
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problem at hollywood hills are ensuring that there is an emergency preparedness plan at every facility. ensuring every facility has quality back-up supplies, generators, others to be able to provide a temperature of 71 to 81 degrees within thefacility -- the facility and it does not go beyond that. suree also working to make that the appropriate staff are trained so they know what to do in the case of the emergency. based on the reports i read of the incident in hollywood hills, several of the failings that led to the unfortunate circumstances were that those personnel did not respond to the emergency preparedness plan. the personnel were not adequately trained on the plan, and they weren't able to take steps accordingly. those are things we're going to be working with to ensure, as i said, we survey people going forward starting in november. >> i encourage you to do that on expeditious basis because that timeframe is not acceptable. miss brandt healthservices provided under medicaid provide
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critical role in how quickly families are able to recover from natural disasters. following katrina bush administration took a number of action to ease barriers to health insurance coverage through medicaid. for example, cms allowed for temporary expansion of medicaid eligibility infected areas, moratorium on determination, self-attestation of medicaid eligibility factors and various waivers. in congress and deficit reduction act acted to ensure states were fully reimbursed at 100% fmat. does cms plan to take similar actions in response to harvey, hurricane irma and maria? what if any difference will be there between puerto rico and u.s. virgin islands and state on the mainland. multiple parts to -- mainland? multiple parts to the question. with respect to the self-attestation and eligibility requirements, we have already put in place same flexibilities in place for katrina to allow it so that people have the flexibility to self attest.
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if they don't have appropriate documentation, if it was lost in the floods or the winds or any of the other natural disasters. that is already taking place. with respect to the uncompensated care pools you mentioned, that is something we're working with office of management and budget to work with congress on, because that is something only congress can address from a funding perspective. then with respect to how the states are treated differently than the territories with respect to that, we basically have been holding them all -- having the same amount of waivers and same amount of flexibilities across the board. one of the things we are watching as has been mentioned, the number of people leaving puerto rico and going to the states and making sure we're working with the states that they are going to, make sure those states are compensated for the care they are providing to those evacuees. >> i'll look forward to working with you more on that and thank you to the panel. >> thank you very much. now recognize the gentleman from michigan, mr. wahlberg. five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks to the panel for being here. i have a few questions as well
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that congresswoman jennifer gonzalez asked to address and the importance i think addressed some concerns now, but even for future consideration. the first would it be beneficial to postpone medicare enrollment period to january 2018? i asked this of miss brandt. given that 80% of the population electricity and telecommunications remains largely down throughout the island. what would be your answer to that? >> we have been working to establish a special enrollment period for the citizens of puerto rico so they have flexibility becausewe recognize many of them may have trouble meeting the current enrollment period. >> so that is viable? >> yes. >> >> ok. how are you ensuring that puerto
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rico has the medicine it needs? >> on that one i would refer to dr. kadlec because that's more of a supply chain issue. we simply pay for the prescriptions. >> mr. kadlec. >> there have been several approaches to basically address medicines on the island. probably the most important thing wedid with the principle medical supplier on the island was provide them fuel to maintain their generators so they could keep refrigerated products for the supply chain and make sure they had gas to deliver it. we've been monitoring functionality of pharmacies. there's over 700 pharmacies on the island. them are open at the present time. we have worked with mainland distributors of temperature sensitive items to ensure they can basically push in there insulin is one we've worked with people as well as with the major transporters of materials in to make sure those materials are
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prioritized. also turn to dr. gottlieb because his agency has been very influential as well as working with mainland suppliers to bring in products. a varietyen working of different ways. our dmat teams havecaches they take, pharmaceutical supply. hospitals to patients they see anywhere. we have done tailgate medicine. we've actually gone into areas that are rural, remoteand have been cut off. done so by helicopter and altering vehicles to ensure we can deliver medicines to people who need them. we've gone to a variety of different lengths. some straightforward and some pretty exotic to do so. we try to meet whatever need is out there. >> ok. commissioner gottlieb, could you respond to that as well? especially in context with the power problems and how we're keeping up with the pharmaceuticals? >> the point i'd add to the comments, there is a number of
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facilities that manufacture largely and predominantly for the island of puerto rico on puerto rico. we've prioritized those facilities. in terms of how we've thought about our mission, we have prioritized manufacturers who supply critical products to the people of puerto rico. there are some local manufacturers that provide sterilization for hospitals, follow regulatory scope. early on we worked to prioritize getting those back online. >> one more question. medicalported that oxygen and access continues to be a challenge in puerto rico. could you please update the both the actions the fda is taking to ensure that all patients and facilities that require oxygen are able to receive it as well as the agencies actions to guard against potential shortage of medical oxygen. >> we've worked with partners at hhs. i'm going to defer to them because they have played a more
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active role with these facilities. >> sir, there are two principle suppliers of oxygen on the island. both of them are back operational on the grid right now. there was a smaller supplier and large supplier of oxygen. they both suffered loss of electricity in the immediate aftermath of the storm. again, barging in oxygen cylinders, not something you can fly in necessarily. but oxygen is not the only gas that is needed. co2, night again, argon are all medical gases needed by manufacturers as well as the clinics out there. so we basically have been trying to move what we could uss comfort, which is floating around the island on the western side can produce oxygen. so we're actually filling cylinders of oxygen usingcomfort's capabilities to provide that, liquid oxygen generators so we could provide
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temporary filling. so right now i think we're on the right side of the oxygen problem. both facilities are operational. i think the supply should be sufficient as we go over time as the capacity, particularly larger manufacturer comes full steam. just to build on that, -- steam. >> just to build on that, i'll tell you there is a number of medical product manufacturers who use oxygen, night again in theirmanufacturing processes. they have been able to secure the supply they need in a few instances historically we had to prioritize getting some of those supplies onto the island or from the island. but in most cases there's source outside the island that seems to be stable right now. we've moved past what i think is critical phase of trying to work through this. most of the facilities that need access to medical gases for the manufacturing processes are getting them now. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. now recognize the gentleman from california dr. ruiz for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for
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holding this hearing. by way of background i'm a board certified emergency physician. i was trained by the harvard humanitarian initiative on humanitarian disaster aid including international committee of red cross and one of the first responders -- after the earthquake in haiti and the medical director for the largest internally displaced camp in all of port-au-prince after that earthquake and worked hand in hand with the 82nd airborne. i have seen firsthand the challenges that arise in the middle of humanitarian crisis and the importance of having clarity and plan and clarity coordinating among agencies, government officials and ngos in the field. while i'm grateful we're having a hearing on this issue with hhs, we need a fuller, more accurate view of what is happening in puerto rico from all stakeholders, all levels of government and all different agencies including clinical workers and ngos and people on the field. two weeks ago i flew down to
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puerto rico to see the conditions for myself and do a needs assessment based on my training and my experience. i'm here to report to you what i saw and give you some helpful recommendations. one, the people of puerto rico are very hardworking, humble people with respect for themselves and their dignity and they are doing everything possible to help one another, to get the job and take care of one another. number two, the people who work in your agencies are giving 110%. i have to give kudos to the dmat teams i spoke with firsthand. -- firsthand. california one, california 11 from orangecounty and sacramento did fabulous jobs. hhs liaison was there doing an amazing job. i went further spot community and did not stay in san juan and listen just to leaders. i listened to pediatricians on the ground, shelter coordinators, patients that were on the ground. what i can tell you, these are the problems. one, there's a lack of clarity
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of leadership. i'm talking to high-level officials from all the different agencies and i'm not going to mention names but the folks in the puerto rican government are saying fema is running the show. people at fema are saying we're taking orders from the puerto rican government. i talk to people from hhs and they are saying we do not communicate very much with the needs with the dod. so there's a lack of clarity with who is actually running the show in puerto rico. two, there's a lack of coordination. you're not going -- coordination. you're not going to get the full picture, folks, if you stay in san juan. you're not going to get the full picture if your leadership and people making decisions are based in san juan in a convention center with air conditioning and food and drinks and everything. you've got to get your butts out of san juan, intothe remotest areas in puerto rico to talk to people and see firsthand. so these three -- the other thing is the problem is there's a lack of priorities and clarity in the metrics that you're using
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and what you're telling the american people what yourefforts -- your efforts are. what does it mean when you say bottles and food delivered to all municipalities for pr purposes so people get a sense that you're doing your job when in fact what you should be talking about is capacity. capacity for food supply chains. capacity for electrical grid repairs. capacity to deal with theneed. all of you have mentioned numbers and enumerators and number of clinics and people on the ground. what you haven't mentioned is the denominator. the actual need. so of your hospital capacity, what is the capacity to the overall need that the people on the ground actually need. this is my one recommendation, and i strongly agree you will be able to better handle the situation on the ground with a mayor sense of urgency and real-time flexibility. yes, keep your command center in san juan but create command posts on the ground with
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representatives from the hhs, the army corps of engineers, the dod, department of housing, department of homeland security with fema, the representatives from the local grid, federal and state counterpart including ngos and local mayors so they can have daily briefing and problem solving as they arise on the ground. let me give you an example. i went to one clinic, they had a generator fixed by fema. the local clinic didn't know when that generator that fema installed went down. they were without power two days turning patients away. they didn't have a number to call army corps of engineer to determine whether they were on the qe. i went to a local school in one of the communities. they were going to close their doors on october 23 when school starts. mothers telling me their children needed bottled water. there's a department of defense army guy saying we have a case load of bottles. can we get
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-- bottles. can we get authorities to move them down? hell, yes. having command posts on the ground in every municipalities, ngos, local mayors and everybody can hold each other accountable to address needs and real-time actions and cut a mother may eyes, like you suggest, and get a food, get the transportation, get the medicine that people need in real-time, addressing problems in real-time is what the people of puerto rico need. there's a lack of sense of urgency when we talk about these issues. your folks on the ground are doing an incredible job but the urgency to meet the needs of 3.4 million people. water, food supply chain, .lectrical grids those are your top three priorities to prevent unnecessary loss of life of americans on the island. i feel very passionate about this because i took care of a woman who in front of me in a shelter had a seizure. i -- caesar. -- had a seizure.
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i protected her airway. i tried to get her to emergency care. there was no oxygen, no medicine at this temporary seizure. we need to do a better job on the ground coordinating with different agencies so we can save more lives and do what all your mandates are about to do. so i think the people on the ground, they are incredible workers and i look forward to working with you more to make sure that we have command posts out in the field. >> we appreciate your passion and agree we probably ought to get down there and get out and see things and appreciate you and dr. burgess having both visited down there and look forward to your ip put as a committee works further on these issues. now turn to mr. costello from pennsylvania for five minutes of questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. dr. kadlec in your written testimony you mentioned puerto rico faced public health and public health infrastructure challenges prior to hurricane maria's arrival which , exacerbated the hurricane's affects.
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could you describe what some of these challenges were and how they adversely impacted the public health response efforts? >> sir, i'm going to make a quick comment. remember puerto rico sustained two hurricanes not one. the first hurricane irma tooka wallop. then on the northern side of the island where a lot of their public health infrastructure is, laboratories will have to refer to admiral redd to talk more about the particulars there. but remember there were two events on puerto rico not one. that was the challenge right there from the get-go. >> thanks. >> i think that the nature of the event really is what stressed the system so much. it was so destructive. i think also some of the things that have been talked about migration of physicians and the overall waning of the number of providers is really a risk
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factor for damage to the public health system. >> so are you saying that the infrastructure was sufficient and that even if the infrastructure is more improved than the condition it was in, it wouldn't have mattered because the storm was so devastating? >> i think whatever amount of destruction you sustain, it is changed from what you had before. a stronger system for an event would mean you'd have a stronger system afterward. >> it wasn't 100% destruction. >> i guess what i think i'm trying to drive at, didn't mean to cut youoff, what kind of infrastructure improvements are necessary to make moving forward so that maybe a storm of lesser destructive magnitude but still nevertheless damaging, there be a better response -- there would be the ability to have a better response because better infrastructure was in place. >> sure.
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i think that some of the instances of damage, for example, if the laboratory had been constructed in such a way that it wouldn't have sustained that severe damage if there had been a generator keep ability that could have been set up more quickly than what is going on now. those of the kind of things that would have been able to bring the system back on my more quickly. >> could i ask you to supplement your answer in writing with any additional type of infrastructure elements? >> happy to do so. >> thank you. dr. kadlec, can you elaborate on lessons learned from previous natural disasers from hurricane katrina improved hhs is response to storms. i said storms, more than one. >> thank you, sir. i think one of the things from katrina was basically unity of effort to capitalize on dr. ruiz' comments earlier. one created the idea of a medical response.
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well i cannot dispute the issues of field command post, i can say certainly, and with great authority, that throughout our efforts we were trying to work very closely, not only with department of health in puerto rico which sets the requirements for what they need that we try to service and satisfy, we're working across not only department of health and human here,es as we show solidarity with cdc, fda and cms and other but dod. the uniqueness of that is displayed in puerto rico that was not displayed in katrina where you had clinics providing for not only veterans and their families, which is typical of the general population and doing that with combined dmat assistance with our national
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disaster medical service teams. so that just gives you a flavor of that. i think the other part is lessons learned. we saw it in texas and we saw it in florida that there are hospital preparedness grants. these grants basically help hospitals prepare. first it was initially for hospitals, then coalitions of hospitals that basically were able to demonstrate communication and capability within those coalition that is made them more sufficient and resilient to these effects. give you an example, one in particular which is pretty extraordinary, which is in houston with ben taub hospital which if you recall back several years ago there were very bad floods. in 2008 inhouston flooded out hospital infrastructure in downtown houston. they took hospital preparedness grants you authorized and appropriated against and basically ensured they could not only withstand flooding,
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developed a watertight doors to basically prevent that, set of procedures they could continue operations despite hurricanes, despite floods. that was not only the case in houston but beaumont, texas, same dprants made sure had waitedrsonnel errors so that the hospitals could go out there and recover patients. a lot of great lessons learned in this. one about capacity of americans to not only help but volunteer as we're witnessing in puerto rico right now. the idea is we're going to do a little more formal one totake -- to take advantage of these terrible events to see what we could do better. >> such a thorough response that you actually answered the question i didn't get to ask as part of the answer to that question. could i just ask you to supplement in writing any additional lessons learned, not an admission you didn't do anything right but sort of
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consistent with congressman ruiz's comments relative to what moving forward can be done in order to improve the next time a tragedy like this might occur so we're better prepared. that's what we all want to do. >> thank the gentleman. now recognize you for five minutes for questions. >> thank you very much. fourteen people died at the rehabilitation center in hollywood hills, florida, when it lost power and overheated from september 11th to september 13th. miss brandt, as seniors went into distress workers struggled to provide 911 with basic information including the address. it was also reported that the same facility with previously laid off hundreds of workers, including nurses. the nursing home stated that it
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employs full-time and part-time employees but did not state if a nurse was present when the paint -- patients went into cardiac arrest. did cms find -- can you give me yes or no in simple questions. did cms find there was a nurse on site at this nursing facility from the 11th of september to 13th? >> we have a full report on that, madam congresswoman. i don't know the specifics of it. there was specifically a nurse. >> is a nurse required to be present in nursing home? >> we have conditions of participation which require clinical staff to be present. >> and are the requirements for nursing home disaster preparedness plans, that is a requirement? >> that is a requirement, yes. >> were they followed? >> according to the report that we got from our state facilities, they were not followed in this instance and that's why the facility has been terminated from accepting medicare and medicaid patients. >>
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that is the consequence. >> that is the consequence. >> i wanted to talk to dr. kadlec about the hospitals. a week after hurricane maria hhs told committee staff that most hospitals would face major challenges getting food and water. we have talked about that. of course more than a month after hurricane maria reported surgery is being done by cell phone flashlight. there is pictures that show that. so i guess it's pretty well documented. and so what i wanted to know is do hospitals connected to the electric grid have access to full regular power, or is it only being provided intermittently? >> depends where those hospitals are. there have been issues of reliability. i'll have to turn you over to u.s. army corps of engineers to
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talk about when you say all hospitals are connected to the grid -- >> no, ma'am. there's only 60% of the hospitals connected to the grid currently, as of today. >> and the others, are they operating -- >> they are operating on generators and basically working with fema to actually have n plus one, where they actually have two backup generators. they have a principle generator and back-up so if they need to switch, if the generator fails, they can go immediately to the next one. again, the plan is to basically have 911 fema generator repair team to come out and fix primary generator. >> as a consequence of all this, you would say there's now 24/7 jen power at what percent of the hospitals? >> 0% on the grid would have regular power. there's reliability as relates to transition wires and
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distribution that i have very little understanding of because i did very badly in electrical engineering but i think the point is that there are hospitals outthere that are on the grid. even those hospitals have generator backups. >> ok. i want to turn for a minute to the virgin islands, dr.kadlec. i -- i understand hurricane maria tore the roofs off of thetwo largest hospitals in st. croix and saint thomas. so what is hhs doing to ensure americans in the virgin islands are receiving the health care they need? >> ma'am, immediately after the storms passed, both irma and maria had effects on both saint thomas and st. john, st. croix where the hospitals are. with the passing of those storms, the initial storm irma, we basically set up dmat team with temporary shelter there and that was replaced with a more
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capable army support clearing medical station which is 40 bed mini hospital that'sthere. now we're in the midst of basically deploying a westernshelter assembly, so that would allow physicians and nurses and health care practitioners on virgin islands to go back to work and take care of their patients while the hospitals are being assessed i the army corps of engineers. be we have provided immediate care and providing intermediate support and basically transitioning to a capability that would allow health care workers on virgin islands to go back to work. then with that give time to basically repair andreplace those hospitals. thank you. -- hospitals. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you, gentlelady. now recognize mr. collins for five minutes for questions.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you all the witnesses for coming. dr. kadlec, while we're operating hospitals under generator power and the like, as people are being transitioned out of the hospitals, in many cases, in fact probably in most cases, the residents don't have power at home and don't have running water. could you perhaps explain what's going on relative to these patients leaving and how are you and othersnow dealing with the fact that they are moving into an environment without power. in -- power, and in many cases, without running water. >> just to highlight a comment made earlier by admiral redd, thereare six federal medical stations that have been deployed to puerto rico at the present time, two are operational, two 250-bed facilities that are being staffed by v.a. workers as well as volunteers in one case by greater new york hospital association. a great example of combined effort between our federal and
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volunteer partners that are basically providing those kind of transition places for people who need additional medical support or care, don't need to be in the hospital, cannot go home for what ever reason. we've set up those and had more in position as we're required to do so. >> that's reassuring that you're basically assessing patients one by to make sure that when they one are released they are getting the care they need. >> yes, sir. >> another question, again, back to the individual situations is the report that the pharmacies are asking for cash payments because of a lack of ability to connect into insurance companies. yet in many cases the folks needing prescriptions filled don't have that cash. what are the questions should go to you or dr. gottlieb, what are we handling that's beenreported in that case? >> in puerto rico there's a prime minister called emergency pharmacy assistance
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program which provides free medication for individuals who can't pay for it. that's been invoked. people who don't have cash but need medicines can get it. that is one way. the other way is if they would go to one of our dmatfacilities co-located in seven of the regions in puerto rico, theycan get medicines from there as well. we provide prescriptions or medications is required. >> that is reassuring as well. now, in some cases, someone that's been on prescriptions, i'm assuming there's some difficulty even in the pharmacy contacting the physician's office. i know if i go to one and they say it's expiredt they say we'll contact the physician and get back to you. again, because of the lack of infrastructure how is that being handled? >> not only medicines but prescriptions filled out for people whoseek them out. they have to basically present themselves to either one of our dmat teams or military
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facilities or v.a. facilities and they will get a prescription, if not the medication itself. >> again, i appreciate you're basically taking what i would call a one by one by one approach. every situation is somewhat different. i'm getting -- different. i'm getting comfortable that you're taking care of people as best we can given limited infrastructure. in some cases doing things in an unusual way. yes, sir. -- way. >> yes, sir. >> so dr. gottlieb, representative gonzalez that asked me to askyou, on the fda issue related to food and agriculture, what would be your overall assessment and are there cases where the fda is granting waivers and things of that sort, understanding it is not business as usual at all. >> thanks for the question, congresswoman -- congressman. we would typicallygrant waivers, for example, if crops damaged in
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it hurricane, the producer was looking to divert crops intended for human consumption into animal feed. we've already conducted i believe 20 not inspections but site visits to various agricultural facilities and food production facilities to help them back online. we've done this in the last week or so even as our own employees down there have been devastated by the hurricane. we have abo 100 employees on the island. we've conducted i believe a total of 36 inspections of various medical product facilities and food production facilities to help them get back into production. >> i want to thank you. mr. chairman, i'll yield back. i guess i need tosay i'm happy to hear of the response in puerto rico given the fact the island was devastated. it is an island nation. while it's always easy to
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criticizes response, what i'm hearing is a lot of actions have been taken one by one to make sure people are getting the services they need. we can't snap our fingers and rebuild an electric grid overnight. everything i'm hearing is, and i would disagree with the member that was going to give them a to on a scale of one to 10. i also don't like to give grades, but i think that's a bit harsh, considering the devastation that the island withstood and the fact we have never seen anything like this before. again, i want to thank all four witnesses for coming here today. i certainly am leaving today feeling much more comfortable about what's being done to take care of the tragedy that didoccur on puerto rico. i yield back. >> the chair now recognizes the gentleman from california, mr. peters for five minutes for >> questioning. -- questioning. >> thank you, mr. chairman. when you get down at the end
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like this, a lot of questions have been asked already. i am going to ask you an open-ended set of questions from of prevention. i think a lot about what we might do with respect to preparing communities to deal with earthquakes or fires orfloods. but from a health perspective, i haven't really given itmuch thought. do you have thoughts on what you would have liked to have seen the federal government or puerto rico do before this that would have mitigated kind of the need to respond to the extent that we had? anybody? >> i'll just comment that in all the three hurricanes, the major ones, harvey, irma, and maria, that we were very aggressive in deploying our assets, people, capabilities, logistics. as far forward as we could safely in the case of puerto rico, actually putting people in harms way to be there when things happen. you can never anticipate how things will unfold. in particular, florida, if you
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recall, the turn of irma that went from the eastcoast to the west coast, thankfully, and then that kind of deceleration of the storm just before it hit tampa. that's a little bit of good luck. you can't always count on that. but i think one of the things that comes out of this is importance for community resilience, individual resilience, those are things that somehow, again, are not necessarily the domain of hhs, but i think fema and department of homeland security often use october as preparedness month and ask people to see if they have a plan, if they have supplies, if they have the necessary things at home. i think these events highlight that element that individual preparedness, no matter how good we may be, it will always be a circumstance that we may not be able toget to you immediately and you're going to have to provide for yourself and your family in the immediate term. >> from your perspective, the health agency, including the cdc, do you feel like you have
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input into the content of the outreach happening in october, to tell people how to be ready from your perspective? >> i would like to defer to admiral red, but we do interact in these interagency conversations, but if you wonder what kind of messaging you need, i think as we look to the 21st century and my role in preparedness and response, the circumstances that we found ourselves after 9/11 are clearly different today. the circumstances that we find ourselves when this position, my position was created in 2006, are different today than they were then. and so i think the thing is, part of it is keeping up with the rapidly changing threat environment. >> that's the premise of my question. the question is, are we keeping up with it? is there something we need to be doing, is there something reflecting back on? >> i'm going to take advantage of an opportunity to point out that the pandemic preparedness will be reauthorized hopefully
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in the spring of 2018. i believe there should be things that reflect that change threat environment. i think ms. brooks mentioned the issue about the structure of the natural disaster medical system. i called for the idea of a national disaster health care system that would be basically built potentially on what hasbeen proposed with the national trauma system. basically insure that we have the capabilities the country needs to face whatever the threats may be in the future, whether they are natural or man-made. >> thank you. let me turn to the admiral quickly. >> yes, i think the answer to your question, i think, is different depending on the horizon. i think certainly since 9/11, there have been remarkable improvements in our ability to respond in a coordinated, cohesive way. one comment that i would make is that these three different hurricanes were actually very different events. in texas, it was really a flooding event with not very much wind damage in the most
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populated areas. in puerto rico, it was primarily a destructive wind event. so i think what we -- the lesson from that is really being adaptable is a critical capability. and i think that we are continuing to get better at being adaptable to the circumstances that we are confronting. >> great. i want to thank the witnesses and yield my remaining time to dr. ruiz. >> great, because i just have a few seconds, but the idea of peripheral field command posts, would that be helpful tobetter coordinate on the ground realtime with all the stakeholders? >> sir, it is. we have that communications capability with our d-mat teams. >> it can happen? >> it can happen. as it is, you define -- >> so dr. reed, would that be a solution that -- >> yes, it would. just in a narrower way, from a surveillance standpoint having , hubs that can report in would be something that would be helpful to understand what the facts on the ground are. >> i'm going to highly suggest
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that we start doing that as well. and another metric to count is unnecessary deaths. epidemiology, it is one thing to be killed by a falling branch or drowning from the river. the other is to die from not having medications that they could have had if it wasn't for the hurricane. so there's a lot ofunidentified bodies and a lot of deaths occurring. we need a better way to count how many are due primarily and secondarily from the hurricane. thank you. >> thank you for yielding back. i recognize the gentleman from texas for five minutes for questioning. >> i thank the chair, and welcome the chair as our new chairman of the subcommittee. i thank you for allowing me to participate even though i'm not a member of the subcommittee, i'm here to talk about hurricane harvey. the three aspects of hurricane harvey, i'll call them the three ms, mental health, mold, and mosquitoes. i moved to the texas coast in the summer of 1972.
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time, were there at that you hear the legend of hurricane galveston in 1900. worst natural disaster in our country's history. over 6,000 lives lost, probably 8,000 to 10,000 if you count them all. i was there for hurricane alicia in 2001, ike in 2008, harvey did more damage than those hurricanes combined. it hit us twice. hit us once, stopped and hit us again. we faced many health challenges. the centers were breached, there were chemical spills, raw sewage spills, walls of fire ants, toxic smoke fires that got out of control, flesh-eating bacteria to two lives. one in galveston, one in kingwood. a first responder in my district was infectedbut beat it with heavy, heavy antibiotics. mental health became a big issue.
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i saw this first-hand. i was at a school, an elementary school hit by the tornado that hit a plantation called scanlan oaks. talked to the parents, school kids come the class. young man came very proud, the one tornado hit my home. knocked out my window as i was sleeping. mom came back, and i said, man, he is doing great. she said, no, he's not. he's great atschool. a great story. i be the hurricane. the tornado. but says that since it hit his house, he can't sleep in his own bed. he crawls in with mom and dad for security and safety because he fears for his life after what happened with hurricane harvey. and that's just one example of how kids are traumatized bythese events. also, the adults. we went through days and daysof -- tornado warning, flood
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warning, three nights, probably slept for hours over three days. four days after harvey cleared, there was a little flash flood. those alarms went off. people all around said i kind of freaked out hearing the alarms again. my question is, what resources, and maybe you, mr. gottlieb,what resources are you providing our communities to address the mental health issues they face because of hurricane harvey? what can be done for these people? >> well, i'll defer to my colleagues in the panel. in my role as fda commissioner with respect to what we have been focused on coming out of hurricane harvey in addition to there being some medical product facilities in the region, the predominant issue has been related to crop destruction. and issues related to requests for waivers for diversion of crops into animal feed and going forward, we will probably have to take some steps to help with remediation of certain fields that might have been exposed to
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heavy metals from the flooding, but we're primarily focused on issues related to the crops that were damaged in the aftermath of the hurricane. >> thank you. admiral red, any comments on that, sir? >> on the mental health question in particular, i think that there are maybe three points. one is understanding -- four points. one is that these events are devastating. and they have effects oneveryone. most of those effects are relatively short term for most people, and i think for people, when those effects are notshort term, we need to be able to make sure that there is availability of services. second point is really understanding the magnitude of that group of people that need long-term help. if i can remember my third point. i think that's it for me, two points. >> i'll add to his point, really quick, which is simply that we
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have used the public health commission corps, behavioral health teams that have basically been going out. they have been most recently deployed in virgin islands. but also samhsa has provided a hotline to call for people who have had it, and they have had 11,000 calls and basically can speak to a counselor on the phone to ask about their emotional issues and find some assistance and solace in that way. so there are some capabilities out there and we , have been working with -- again, it's dependent on the local authorities to initiate these things, but we certainly stand ready to assist when it is appropriate. >> thank you. admiral redd, you're ready for your third point. >> there may be a couple more. let me talk about mold. we're working closely with the department of health, when there's a flooding event, structures that are flooded will become moldy. we're actually doing three different things in mold.
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one is training of responders, the other is working on communication materials, and the third thing is working with the department of health to investigate the potential for an increase in infections due to invasive mold. i want to remind everybody about the region. -- s one thing i yield back. >> >> there are also three islands with respect to the u.s. virgin islands. st. john, st. thomas, and st. croix.
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i don't want us to see this as a monolith. each of these islands have their own identity and inhabitants. deep enoughing a dive into what is happening with the inhabitants of all of these territories. it is not one singular event. it is an event that hit three separate geographic territories. i'm putting that out there because i'm going to want to hear more about what has happened in terms of response to those territories. we are not hearing at all about how the people of st. john are receiving health care, deceit -- the people of the act is -- we're not hearing that information and that is important. i would like to start my question about the evacuation process. assistance was there for an efficient evacuation plan for
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those whose health is compromised? to thet was provided local health department in the wake of the hurricane to track evacuees who are sent to other islands where the mainland? >> i would highlight our map that we provided which identifies where hhs gave support. on also we had a presence ques as well. irma struck st. thomas first, and we were doing on president things. we were able to identify dialysis patients on the island. we recovered a hundred and 20 of
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them and evacuated them. point in time and we evacuated them the day before the day of landfall of maria. we evacuated them to miami to a shelter so we could ensure they were being cared for. in the cases of other patients evacuated from the virgin islands, they were evacuated to atlanta and were receiving care through their, through local resources. we not only evacuated they had atients, family member to assist them along the way. has only been a handful of evacuations off the island to the mainland. there were two pediatric patients who were evacuated from san juan to miami soon after landfall. and helpto maintain
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with the destruction of puerto rico. those people need to be closer to family and support units. the way we address the problem in puerto rico, we created seven regional hubs, hospitals we opened with disaster medical assistant teams. we made the eastern have a receiving hospital, and use the uss comfort as a mobile hub we to collect patients. use dodbeen able to medevac helicopters to provide response on the
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island. and use naval medical assets to fly -- >> if there is a document that outlines this, that would be great. i want to talk about the public health challenges of these island territories. the islands only the assistance of the federal government in the weeks, months, and years to come. what is the agency's position on the medicaid cap as it relates , and doirgin islands you support a full federal contribution as the federal government did for katrina? thank you for that question. that is something we are looking at, and exploring whether we have the flexibility to do that. the federal map is set by congress, it is a statutory -- about yourng
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recommendation. you have these island theirories, in one case major employment is through tourism. no one is working. are we requiring that government to come up with the match, or are we going to suspended and do a full federal contribution as we did for katrina? on the mainland. we are pursuing that. we are working with the office of management and budget for congressional approval. >> i reckon the gentleman from georgia. mr. carter for five minutes. chairman, andr. thank you all for being here today. can you help me here?
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withw a situation exists the nursing homes in florida. are you going to require nursing homes to have generators? is that going to be a requirement and can you briefly tell me how that will work? >> we have an emergency preparedness role which is finalized last year that is going to be starting next month. it requires generators. requires emergency preparedness plans. it requires training on a continual basis. i spent much of my career as a nursing home consultant. they are pushed for trying to stay solvent as it is. is there going to be any help for them, or is this just another government mandate? >> that is something we are looking at, but i cannot speak specifically to that at this time. >> thank you. "ere was an article in the wall street journal" about the
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was offip and how it the coast of puerto rico but it was not being utilized. i want to get your input on how we can do a better job in the future of making sure, from what hospitaland, a 250 bed , and only 150 beds were being utilized. what can we do to make that uster? it is costing $180,000 a day to have it there. the people in puerto rico desperately need help. again, the comfort was used as a capability to deal with high acuity patients, particularly in circumstances were hospitals on generators would fail. we would need to urges the chance for ill patients somewhere. we were using the 50 bed icu on the boat --
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we understand and appreciate that. it seems like we couldn't make better use of that. is there anything we can do differently to make it more accessible? >> we are in the midst of looking how we can utilize it more. and make it more accessible. that is a ongoing conversation with the department of health in puerto rico, how we can use that more to their needs. >> thank you. it's my understanding the fda can declare on a shortage list medications that are not available, and they can be compounded. is that true? look atn't typically the opportunity to compound as an alternative.
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our staff would work to get the approved product. it might look to help source the same product from overseas. -- itht be inspected by is the case in certain situations you might see practitioners go to approved compounding facilities within the confines of the statute for certain products. >> you are actually increasing access to medication, is that what you are tried to do? >> thanks to some of the new authority congress gave us an respect to our staff, and ability to identify shortages further out, we have been taking steps to mitigate the shortages that have occurred, but also situations where we see the potential. we are looking out one to two months of what we think could potentially happen if production
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does not resume, and taking steps to move temporarily certain manufacturing out of facilities that might be damaged or not up to full production. >> i would ask you as you forinue on your process dealing with compounded medications, and he would take into consideration natural disasters, and there would be exceptions put in there were pharmacies could be utilized so they could get those medications to those patients in the case of natural disasters such as this. >> we would be happy to work with congress. i look forward to working with you. >> i would be glad to work on that with you. one final question, dr. gottlieb -- what about treatment?
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it works better with diseases identified -- >> is that being supplied to puerto rico right now? >> it is. they are not anything special. tetracycline is not as available as it ought to be. unless you getting it for fish tanks. i'm serious. thank you very much. i yield back. never denies the gentleman from new york. five minutes for questions. recognize the gentleman from new york. with clean drinking water,
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there's a major focus. i am pleased the committee is responding to it. address that concern, clean drinking water. there are many reports about a lack of jigging water in puerto rico. unfortunately, neither fema nor the apa is before us today. i'm hoping you might share insights into the water situation in puerto rico and the virgin islands. news has reported one third of order rico has no reliable asess to potable water hoped. because of this we have heard reports of people tricking and baiting in rivers and streams in puerto rico. last tuesday puerto rico's thereiologist announced reported on cases
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the island this month. sees 60 casesly of this disease and a given year. thisreports have connected outbreak to use of contaminated water sources. thisou tell us about concern with this disease? bacterial infection. , tricking ord being exposed to contaminated water water -- water. the vehicle for .he transmission of the disease we are working closely with the
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department of health to confirm or determine if those are actually cases. we have specimens in the laboratory at the cdc right now, doing those tests. we are aware of one confirmed case that was diagnosed in a patient. how large this outbreak is, if it isn't outbreak that remains to be determined, the best way to control the outbreak is to prevent exposure to contaminated water, and that is an issue you started with wider availability of potable water. and early treatment for people of fever,symptoms weakness, exposure to those things. are more stages characteristic, jaundice, yellowing of the skin because of liver damage. for the question about the extent of the water supply system, i might referred to dr.
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kadlec. we have been following 25 of the 100 and 15 public water facilities are out of service. significant me, 10 out of the 51 wastewater facilities are out of service. estimate of a rough what the situation for water is. that is being followed by the u.s. army corps of engineers. >> with the disease itself, is it normally treatable? >> it is treatable. it has significant mortality cases, five toe 15% fatality. it is a serious disease we need to take steps to try to prevent,
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and when recognized treat probably. >> how critical is it for patients to be treated in a matter of days or hours? >> like many bacterial infections, the sooner treatment can be started the more effective it is. early recognition is very important. some of that has to do with access to medical care. diseasesere other associated with tricking in rivers and streams after these heavy rains and flooding that we saw in puerto rico? other other health concerns? >> there are. the conditions that can cause gastrointestinal illness is going to be more common in flood water, wastewater that has sewage and it. there are also skin infections that can be more common when people become exposed to that. diseases, asty of
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well as something that has been alluded to earlier, washer hands, things that will have other beneficial effects. >> thank you. i yield back. >> i think the gentleman and appreciate everybody bearing with me. i reckon eyes the gentleman from florida for five minutes. -- i recognize the john nunn from florida for five minutes. preparednessal program uses grant funds to help defray costs associated with procurement and maintenance of generators for assisted living .acilities the way to grants are structured are principally for health care facilities and for coalitions thereof.
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as part of a plan of the coalition, that could be considered as part of it, but we don't take that. we look to identify how these hospitals and hospital systems can become more resilient. if i make it back to you, i can give you more of a follow-up. >> please. that is very important. there are nursing facilities that do not have generators. that is a priority. >> i will get back to you. >> maybe they have 10 patients or less. we have to make sure they have generators. , at the hollywood hills in florida, raising concerns about the nursing home
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residents where 14 died after the facility lost air-conditioning in the wake of hurricane irma. it was a fully functioning hospital across the street. unbelievable. according to the health care administration, the facility administrator and medical professionals did not know to call 911 in an emergency. i cannot understand this. what is wrong with these people? how could a nursing home be so unprepared for a medical , and 14 residents lost their life? especially when there's a hospital across the street. can you answer that question. the question.or as you are aware hollywood hills has been terminated from participation in the medicare and medicaid program. we make patients our number one
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priority. this was a complete management failure at hollywood hills, which is why they were terminated. they did not meet our conditions for participation for keeping the temperature at a proper level. he did not provide medical care. they had several levels of immediate jeopardy for patients, which is why they were terminated. >> who is ultimately responsible for their safety? terms of the patient safety, the facility has the responsibility, and the management has the responsibility to make sure they are meeting preparedness requirements, that they are providing adequate care, and we hold the facility accountable to those requirements. that's very important, the accountability. do to ensure this
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tragedy never happens again? >> one of the things we have done, we have an emergency preparedness role requires a plan that they train on that plan and are all aware of it. generators and other things to ensure they have adequate power supplies soap patient care can be provided. and they have a plan where the patients can go if it cannot be provided. >> what about puerto rico now? i understand there are nursing homes operating without air conditioning. is responsible for this? who is supervising this? is it cms? hhs? >> in situations like in puerto rico where you have an unheard of situation with no water, no
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power, you have no ability. we work with all of our partners as well as the fema teams and everyone on the ground. they work with federal and state, and the territory officials in puerto rico to pull together, to get patients to a safe place. if they don't have that ability to provide care, we were together to get the transported to a safer place. >> thank you. i appreciate it. i yield back. recognize the gentleman from texas for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. area, anom the houston urban area, i heard today we had our second death from flesh eating bacteria in galveston county. we had one to the south of us, but also to the north we had a 77-year-old lady that passed
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away. we have great medical facilities . is that brennan -- hasn't that been prevalent in puerto rico. i'm not aware of cases that have occurred in other hurricane affected areas. the condition you are describing is pretty infrequent and the u.s., about six to 700 cases per year over the last five years. it is not common. .xposure to floodwaters >> hurricane harvey greeted so many health issues with chemical
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fires and air pollution. epa confirmed that in the aftermath of hurricane harvey, we have a location called the , it was in my district. we changed those, but our constituents still contact us. the analysis found there were concentrations 2000 times higher than the level which the epa required cleanup. the epa administrator was there two weeks ago. the decision has been made to permanently clean up the facility. i was glad of that. are associated with this? parties inponsible
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theythe state of texas, put signs up in english,'s banished, and vietnamese to not eat the crabs of the fish. i go out there you can find anybody who does not have a --hing pole stop a lot of people still do. >> i don't want to say anything that is incorrect. especially with the levels that we are seeing in that setting. decision has been made to clean it up. my concern is a lot of my constituents who go out there and fish and crab. i keep explaining to them you
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need to pay attention to the signs. according to the health department there were contaminants in floodwaters covering most of the city. following hurricane harvey, what role did the cdc play and warning communities of possible waterborne risk and other public health risk? in general, and that part of the response we were working in support of the epa. the kinds of things we would do is to make the kinds of warnings you described, make sure people know those things. the public health communications. >> additionally, not just from industry, at about 50 drinking water systems were shut down following hurricane harvey and more than 160 systems. an issue we are seeing in puerto rico.
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given the lack of power, some people are not able to boil water. without boiling water being an option, what are some of the options to drink water without boiling it, and how does the cdc communicate these hazards? we may be over it, i hope in southeast texas, but in the virgin islands and puerto rico. >> to hazards one would be exposed to drinking water that could be contaminated with sewage would be the things we talked about before, gastrointestinal illnesses, the to have hygiene that prevents other diseases. exposureis superfund to some of the material in those waters, just to bring back one other point, that is one of the reasons having the public health laboratory in puerto rico is so
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important so that testing can be done. and when water is safe to drink that will be easier to confirm when the test is available. every year the upper texas coast, we get a hurricane or tropical storm. longully it will be that of a time. are we learning any lessons from harking harvey -- from hurricane harvey? i hope we're learning to be better prepared. when our water system shutdown, that is a human need that we have to have. thank you mr. chairman for letting me run overtime. >> i appreciate that. thank you. i recognize myself for five minutes. will be the end, so you are almost done.
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dr. gottlieb, black mold. everybody knows there will be some black mold issues. here's one of the issues i don't think many americans know. one of the symptoms, if you see it you will do something about it. oftentimes it is a hidden concern. what should people be on the lookout for? >> i defer to cdc. correct.e absolutely flooding leads to mold contamination. the two different hazards from exposure to mold, one is the worsening of allergic conditions. that can be serious in the case of somebody that has asthma is sensitive to mold. the other is, particularly for people with weakened immune systems, infection from mold can be serious. >> how are they to know?
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what will they be seeing? >> when building materials have been damaged, if mold can grow on it, it will. of remediation, in other words, report services, -- report services, and removing them. guidance in those areas is what i am concerned. ,f you don't know it is there you could start have rasping. particularly if you have asthma. when you have congestion -- wouldn't you have congestion? >> when you have those floodwaters --
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>> you can do it immediately. all right. octor, it has been a month. we of hospitals in puerto rico that are not accepting -- the of hospitals in part to rico not accepting patients -- do we have hospitals in puerto rico not accepting patients? >> three. are open ones not accepting patients? i would have to refer to the census. dialysis is available. that may be some services are not available.
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>> even though dialysis was available, they were cutting short the treatment for time. >> we were looking to work that problem out in terms of lowering the stress on some of those clinics. for places that had more functionality. brings us to the uss comfort. sitting out there. this is a question my colleague gave earlier. what is the approval, or admission process, to be approved for the comfort? island -- based on the swath of the hurricane, there we patientactue centro-medico was the
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level one trauma center. we would transport them there. would be byation centro-medico that would talk to doctors to say, what is this patient suffering from and what kind of cure do they need. then they would be transferred to the centro-medico or comfort. we have an asset we are not using with the comfort. based on the long-term concern you have, what is your biggest organization the may be having? -- may have product
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shortages heading into the critical first quarter. my biggest long-term concern is that we don't do our jobs getting facilities backup in a timely fashion, production could move out of the island. that could put a strain on the economy of puerto rico. we have to make sure we retain that production. >> my time is up. i yield back. >> following up. it would take away good jobs from the island if those facilities closed. >> 90,000 people are directly employed by the industry. manufacturing jobs. estimates, 20he percent-30% of the gdp of puerto rico. i want to thank all of the
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witnesses and the members for participating today. we can submit questions for the record. witnessesat the respond properly to the question they receive after the hearing. was a good hearing. thank you for participating. i have a better understanding. maybe you can suggest where we should go, but i look forward to the subcommittee perhaps visiting the islands to see what we have. other areas that have been affected by the recent hurricanes. with that, the committee is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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