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tv   Hurricanes and Public Health Preparedness Hearing  CSPAN  October 25, 2017 3:57am-6:36am EDT

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eastern on c-span two. c-span, or history unfolds daily. was created as a public service by america's cable-television companies area -- comedies. and is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. next, a hearing to assess the federal government public health preparedness for hurricane season. major damageused to parts of texas, florida, and puerto rico which is home to several drug manufacturers whose the storms reedit -- storms. got.heard from dr.'s the hearing is two hours 35 minutes.
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>> go ahead and get its starting to i appreciate it. we are here to examine the public health fairness for and response to the 2017 hurricane season. last two months, texas, florida, puerto rico, and the u.s. virgin islands have been devastated by hurricanes. we first want to express our heartfelt sorrow to the millions of americans impacted by these devastating storms and to say that all members of this community on both sides of the aisle stand with those affected i these hurricanes -- by these hurricanes. i would like to thank the members of this subcommittee who visited puerto rico and says the impact -- and see the impact
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that these have on our americans. has beenittee conducting oversight to the federal response to the hurricanes after harvey laid landfall. i expect our work will continue for years to come. the jurisdiction involves not just public health issues but also rebuilding the electrical grid, addressing environment of cleanup, and restoring telecommute occasion to name a few. telecommunications to name a few. they are living without power and running water. i believe we are going to be joined today by jennifer gonzalez from puerto rico. someone who knows all too well about the difficult challenges her home is facing. thank you for being here. for coordinating the federal health care response to ensuring
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individuals have medical treatment they need to protecting the blood and pharmaceutical supply. granting emergency waivers and everything in between. hhs has been working for for those individuals affected by the storms. they went above and beyond to protect and treat those in arms way. some health care providers failed to protect their patients. atre was a tragic situation a nursing home in florida where 14 residents died after the
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-- and the federal emergency management or they might been working to provide care and help reestablish the infrastructure. hhs has worked with puerto rico's department of health to resources needed for dialysis facilities and ensure critical supplies are delivered. similar operations are going on at me virgin islands. virgin islands. are these calling delays and efforts? are we utilizing resources in the most effective ways to assist? it is critical we understand public health challenges ahead. mold formation is likely in nearly all the affected regions. as we seen after hurricane harvey, there is an increased risk for the spread of
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infectious disease due to contaminated water. after hurricane maria, one million americans are still without clean, safe drinking water. rebuilding in the virgin islands will take years. mostre condition, and facilities need some degree of assistance. the electrical grid has been devastated which has significantly hampered recovery efforts. we do not know the full extent of the damage, let alone when our fellow citizens will have running water restored. we are doing everything possible to address the short and long-term needs of those impacted by hurricanes harvey, irma, and maria. thecially in the face of public health threats that have resulted from these storms. i think the witnesses today and look forward to your testimony. i will now yield five minutes
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for an opening statement. much, mr.ou so chairman. this hurricane season has been most-- one of the devastating on record. southndated houston and texas. 51 inches of rain. hurricane irma was the strongest atlantic hurricane on record before it hit the virgin islands and florida. 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. the scope of potential health risks caused by this ongoing crisis is still coming into focus. it is clearly considerable. nearly a month after hurricane maria hit, the impact remains decimating.
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nearly 80% of puerto rico still does not have power and hhs reported of substantial amount of hospitals are either not operational or require diesel to run generators to keep functioning. one third of residents lack reliable access to potable water. contaminated water is spreading contagious diseases and while i certainly appreciate the effort by volunteers, including physicians and nurses volunteering their time with the teams, i am concerned that poor management of the hurricane response at a federal level may hinder response efforts. the federal government publicly picture have a complete of what health care challenges exist because quite frankly, most of the island of puerto rico requires -- lacks adequate communication. researche need to further to establish the status of these services.
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as time goes on, we should have filled hearings about puerto rico in and the virgin islands. but much of the recovery effort involves the jurisdiction of this committee. i cannot stress enough how 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 who went after hurricane katrina to new orleans. through years of oversight on the subcommittee was that washington's understanding of the situation on the ground is very different than what we observed firsthand. happenedirst saw what to those records, when we had our field hearings and we saw businessened to small
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people don't marry in new orleans, you just cannot substitute for that. begin to think about our public responses, members of congress, we need to see what we are doing on the ground. mr. chairman, last week president trump said the administration deserves a 10 fourths response to the devastation of hurricane maria. given the fact that most residents lack power, nearly a million americans lack access to safe and reliable drinking water, i find that statement to be breathtaking. i hope that our witnesses today are better prepared than that to talk about what is really happening on the ground and what we can do to address this unfolding crisis. i hope it will be the beginning , concerted effort to understand what is going on and i would now like to yield the balance of my time to representative pastor, who wants to talk, appropriately, bob he
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health challenges facing her home state of florida. pastor: thank you for the time. we have many challenges ahead. i want to think the witnesses here today. i want to thank all of my colleagues. hopefully this is the first of many hearings because his is going to be a very long recovery. , 75r 75 lives lost in texas including in florida, 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 active role in infections growing. i am 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.
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on the island, the drinking water issue is simply critical. i look forward to your expert testimony today and the committee's work in the days ahead. thank you. >> we now recognize the chairman of the committee. >> i think the vice-chairman for holding this important hearing. i want to express my deepest sympathy for those have been affected by these horrible storms, specifically our citizens in the u.s. virgin islands and puerto rico. this committee stands ready to assist in whatever way we can. we will continue to be religion to in the oversight and the work that the agencies are doing and the needs of the people. i am pleased that dr. burgess has already been to puerto rico, visited some of hospitals, and 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 about what is out there and had an we need to uncover and get better
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solutions. today we are examining continuing efforts to protect the public health in texas, florida, preorder rico, and the u.s. virgin islands in the aftermath of hurricanes harvey, irma, and maria. this is the first of a series of meetings and in the coming weeks we will hold hearings before the energy and environment committees. the vice-chairman stated this committee will be conducting --rsight of the building rebuilding the of puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands for years and years to come. the public health risk typically associated with natural disasters very, including heightened incidents, diminished access to medical care and long-term mental health trauma. risks can be particularly dangerous, especially for vulnerable populations such as infants, dialysis patients, and individuals who may be
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immunosuppressed. we saw this in the aftermath of hurricane irma, where 14 elderly residents lost their lives as a result of feet induced death issues after the facilities are conditioning system failed during the storm. committees and a bipartisan letter to the nursing homes under requesting information on the facilities emergency preparedness plan, inspection history, and the steps it took to protect its residents after the air-conditioning system stopped working. --will hear from three major many protocols necessary to conduct a fast the public immutable.e federal agencies responding to disasters must be able to communicate with each other ofectively to identify areas need, ensuring that individuals have adequate access to basic
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process of as food, water, and medical supplies critical in any of recovery. as we head into the recovery thats it is also important we carefully monitor patients as they transition from hospitals or under medical supervision back to their homes or places of residence. news reports indicate more than 60% of puerto ricans are now theless as a result of devastating hurricanes. we need to make sure when patients are discharged from hospital that they are safe places to go and do not end up on the streets are back in the hospital. following hurricane maria, various me to reports called into question whether the federal government is adequately meeting its obligations protect health and welfare of american citizens. on this matter, look to gain perspective from witnesses who
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left than on the ground in the areas. making sure the americans in need get the assistance they require cannot and should not be a partisan matter. agencies are not pulling their weight, we want to know. if there are federal laws or policies that are impeding the recovery efforts, we want to know. about any best practices that can be gleaned from ongoing recovery efforts to utilize in response to future natural disasters. thanks to you for being on the ground trying to do the best you can in these horrible circumstances. we need to know the facts. the lessons learned with that, yield back about some by time but before i do that i would like to welcome our newest member of the committee, mr. duncan, who was just approved by the house conference committee this morning, the steering committee last night replacing dr. murphy. thank you for your today. i yield back. >> thank you mr. chairman. we now recognize the drinking
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member of the committee. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you for holding this critical hearing. i hope this is the first of many meetings. congress needs to hear further from hhs and others. to take also like moment to recognize the federal, state, local responders are working hard to address the many public issues which exist as response and recovery continues in all of the areas that work impacted by these three major hurricanes. i know firsthand of the tragic naturalion caused by disasters. my area was hit by hurricane sandy and i have ever seen worst storm damage. in many cases it was the worst case scenario. homes lost. the fifth anniversary is coming up this weekend and we still have a lot of people are not back in their homes or
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businesses. our nation is experiencing historic loss in the virgin islands and puerto rico's as well as on the gulf coast. while a to natural disasters are though results of these hurricanes call for unique help and have challenges. while congress continues to address the response in florida and texas, we must work to ensure that puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands received full and immediate support. i would like to recognize a number of ongoing challenges. the areas indicate hundreds of thousands of americans continue to struggle to meet day-to-day needs. i am particularly concerned residents still do not have access to food or medicine. as many as one million americans lack access to clean water. situations a dire
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that completely contradicts often rosy stories that come from the president and white house. hurricanes are my end where caused widespread flooding and the u.s. virgin islands including critical damage to electrical roads, drinking water systems, and transportation infrastructure. virtually all residents of puerto rico on the u.s. virgin islands have an impacted. reportsseen and heard of death, dehydration, and desperation is residents continue to struggle in a post-apoplectic landscape. post-apocalyptic landscape. fundamental health needs remain unaddressed even a month after hurricane maria and almost two months after hurricane irma. the list of serious needs and challenges is long. many hospitals do not have
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reliable power. many communities lack safe drinking water and people of resort into drinking questionable water sources. are still unsure if the water is safe and a recent crewsiefing we learned going into communities to test for water quality were arriving to found that people still lacked adequate food and drinking water. congress must provide ongoing support in the aftermath of these hurricanes to restore and rebuild. i hope our witnesses will help us understand what needs to me moreved so congress can effectively provide assistance in understanding impacts on public health not just today but in the months to come. my mayors and by elected officials locally are help or any kind of help for us because a lot of these people are coming or without a lot of money and they need support as well.
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this is something we need to look into. i like to yield the remainder of my time to mr. green. >> thank you. our district in houston in harris county, texas, was heavenly impacted by hurricane harvey. we had at least eight deaths in our district alone. ofhink the tireless work first responders, public health professionals, and community members for helping fellow texans during the time of need. forill be much more notches texas but for louisiana, florida, puerto rico, virgin islands, and a number of other disasters. needtate of texas and cms to work together to make sure we're taking advantage of every opportunity to help people in need, especially when comes to medicaid. i hope they will act expeditiously to get necessary resources to our local hospitals in texas to help uninsured disaster victims. we shifted recovery to houston and texas gulf cost and are responding to public health
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concerns related to harvey, including the spread of mold, the spread of disease carrying mosquitoes. we must be responsive to the environmental impact of harvey, including community members possibility of exposure to toxic chemicals and wastewater. fromk forward to hearing federal public health agencies to address these pressing concerns. in our office in houston, we are still doing a lot of casework on social security, veterans, you name it. but now every staff member is working with fema because it goes through the process. we are working toward, again with our federal agencies helping us to make sure we can get people back to where they are. where they were before the storm. i think my colleague again for yielding. i yield back the time. >> and i yield back as well, mr. chairman. consent, that our member statements be made
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available in the record. without objection, they will be entered into the record. energy andsent that commerce members be permitted to participate in today's hearing. without objection. so ordered. further, just so everybody knows we are doing is, mr. duncan has joined the committee and subcommittee. until a formal motion is made on the floor, the parliamentarians tell us where to treat him as a member but not yet on the subcommittee on oversight and investigations, so he will be treated like all other members in that circumstance, which means he will go last. it is the newest member of the committee he would go last anyway. but -- [laughter] >> i wanted to let everybody know what the status is so when they hear the motion later on the floor they will know that is what the parliamentarians told
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us we need to do. , hisply knows as others responsibility is getting us each coffee. [laughter] >> we have heard tell of the story. >> we will make sure he is aware of those duties, mr. chairman. welcome other members with us today who may show up at a later time. pursuant to house rolls, members not on the committee are able to attend our hearings. we are happy to have them but they are not permitted to ask questions. i would like to now introduce our panel of witnesses for today's hearing. the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the department of health and human services. welcome. next, it he honorable scott gottlieb, who serves as the commissioner of the u.s. fda. then ms. kimberly grant, the
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at the center for medicare and medicaid services. welcome. we're glad you're here. reddd,, we have stephen who is director of office and public health preparedness and response at center for disease control. thank you for being here. as part of what we do in this committee, we are holding an investigative hearing. when doing so, it has been the practice of the subcommittee to take testimony under a. do any of you have objection to testifying and growth? seeing none, the chair then advises you that under the rules of the house and the rules of the committee, you are entitled to be accompanied by counsel. do any of you desire to be accompanied by counsel during your testimony today? seeing none. in the case, if you would please
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rise and raise your right hand, i will swear you will in. testimonyar that the you are about to give us the truth come the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? hearing of formative answers from all. i should. thank you very much. you are now under a pen subject to the penalties set forth in of the united states penal code. you may now give a five-in its summary of your written statement. honorablegin with the --. >> good morning, members of the subcommittee. it is a privilege to appear and discuss our nation's medical and public health response to a series of unprecedented nearly simultaneous category 4 and category five hurricanes that hit the u.s. mainland and territory so far this season.
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hhs, as well as inter-agencies of fema, dhd, and the dod have pushed boundaries in unprecedented ways to save lives in support communities and people impacted by the major hurricanes. i recognize in some regions in puerto rico and the virgin islands people are still facing dire conditions. recently i saw that for myself and the devastation firsthand. i can assure you that hhs continues response at 110% and we will continue to work as hard as we can until conditions improve. since this is my first time testifying, and begin with a brief description of my view on the role of this position. this organization was created almost 11 years ago in response to hurricane katrina. the objective was to create unity of command by consolidating hhs public health and medical preparedness under one person. i had the privilege of serving as staff director on that subcommittee that drafted this legislation.
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saveission is simply to lives and protect america from health security threats. the response to public health emergencies and in accordance with the national response framework. today, the threats facing our country are increasingly more lethal. therefore, my main objective is to improve national readiness response capabilities to 21st-century threats. i do that through four key areas. provide strong leadership. second, providing national healthcare system. third, provide robust security facilities and finally, create advanced innovative preparedness development. hurricanes harvey, irma, maria and nate created unique challenges especially in puerto rico. especially in puerto rico, no person, no place, no life was
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untouched. during my trip there, i was overwhelmed by the resiliency of citizens making do in difficult situations. our strategy to save lives has been threefold. save lives, stabilize health care system, and restore historic health care services. in puerto rico, we are responding. another is, recovery is underway. bye are many actions taken partners. in order to save lives, we activated natural disaster medical systems and the ploy more than 2500 personnel from 21 states and hundreds of other federal employees, including core personnel to communities impacted by 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 care for more than 15,000 patients in the affected states and territories and more than dachshund puerto rico alone.
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sent 439 tons of medical equipment and supplies theye areas will stop proactively utilized. identify medicare and medicaid beneficiaries to rely on life -retaining assistant article equipment as well as rely on dialysis and home health services. we evacuated more than 200 dialysis patients from the u.s. virgin islands. personnel joined search and rescue teams to locate and evacuate dialysis patient. hhs activated the emergency prescription assistance programs in puerto rico, which provides free medications to disaster victims who cannot afford to pay. hhs deployed mental help teams and activated behavioral health hotlines in partnership with samsara to help people cope with psychological effects of these
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storms. i would like to show you a map. you can see it on the screen or you have paper copies in front of you. it illustrates come of approach to provide health care services we implemented. together with our interagency partners as well as the puerto rico help 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 of all of the work the teams and public health service commission core personnel did. they left their families, medical and clinical practices to render aid. we are committed to the long recovery had. we also reflect on this by conducting a comprehensive after-action review to identify ways to improve our capacity to respond to future public health emergencies, either naturally occurring or man-made. i thank you for the opportunity
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to address these issues and i'm happy to address any questions you may have. christ ui. now five minutes for an opening statement. >> thank you chairman. members of the subcommittee, i've for shake the invitation to discuss the response to hurricanes harvey, irma, and maria. my remarks today will be focused on the impact of rihanna puerto rico because of the unique role fda had on the enormous magnitude of the devastation. first and foremost, our commitment is to the people of frederico as they begin the long recovery from overwhelming devastation. a broader also has mission in puerto rico. a substantial portion of the island's economic raises comprised of facilities that manufacture medical products. this includes many critical medical products. more than 50rently medical device manufacturing plants in puerto rico. they produced more than 1000 different kinds of devices.
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we are especially focused on about 50 types of medical devices manufactured by about 10 farms in puerto rico. these devices are critically important to patient care because they may be life-sustaining or life-supported. rico is the only manufacturer of many of these devices. in the same time, we are focused andbout 30 different drugs about 10 different biological devices manufactured on the island. 14 of these products are sold-source. meeting their manufactured only in puerto rico. we have been working closely with our partners in fema comet dhs, and of course, hhs. getting fuel for generators and materials for manufacturing as well as logistics to move the finished products off the island. nature and risk has progressed. early on, we health individual farm secure rights for
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airplanes. as days went on, we started yet were actively involved in helping facilities secure diesel fuel for generators. the last weeks, we have been actively engaged for helping facilities manufacture products critical for the blood supply and small quantities of medical gases they use in manufacturing process. as recovery efforts proceed, a lot of challenges are being solved and no longer require our active intervention. that is the good news. we are processes in place now to help guarantee fuel and medical gases and other critical components but there will be other challenges that rise this crisis involves. the one that concerns is the most is long-term power. many generators were not meant to function for months on end. a lot of facilities cannot return to full production on generator power alone. producing 20%-70% of
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their capacity. they won't be able to resume full production until they are back on the power grid. if they don't return to the grid by the end of this year we are concerned that we could face multiple potential shortages unless we can help the facilities shift more manufacturing off the island. with my remarks i would like to give you a perspective on the human factor that we are seeing every day where we see the island's residents taking off in heroic steps to keep supplies and critical products flowing and where firms are taking their own extraordinary steps as good corporate citizens to support these efforts. if we are going to avert major product shortages i want to take a moment to take note of the activities and to support them. first and foremost, i want to take note of the americans who reside in puerto rico. medical productindustry directly employs about 90,000. if we
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avert critical shortages it will be because of our fellow citizens who return to their post at this critical time as their own families were displaced. we owe them all an enormous debt of gratitude. i want to take measure of the good corporate citizenship. even as we have watched some companies take extraordinary efforts to maintain production they took steps to support employees and the families of their workers, using their facilities as a way to deliver direct assistance to those harmed by maria. many of these manufacturing facilities is serving as disaster relief stations across the island and helping distribute aid to outlying towns. companies are distributing gasoline to their employees and general relief items. facilitieshave been using cafeterias to feed employees and families. one drug company told us they shipped thousands of generators
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to the island as part of hundreds of tons of relief aid. we know of companies that have created financial programs to help rebuild homes and resume their lives. some of the programs include cash grants or match donations they accept across the globe as a way to help rebuild the homes. i want to take a moment to recognize these efforts. these kinds of commitments are a key part of 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 public health mission. fda has a long history of operating on the island. we owe the island's residents our long term commitment to a full recovery. thanks a lot. >> i thank you for your testimony and now i recognize ms. brandt. 48i've met and opening statement. ms. brandt: thank you members of subcommittee, thank you for theopportunity to discuss efforts by the centers of services to respond to the recent hurricanes. cms plays an integral role. i have almost 20 years of experience and even with that perspective i was surprised of
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the involvement in the hurricane response efforts. this is a role our agency takes very seriously as evidence that cms administrator is in puerto rico assessing on the ground efforts in gaining valuable insights. many people think of cms as a pair and as a regulator overseeing andenforcing standards for care delivered. that perspective i was surprised of the involvement in the hurricane response efforts. this is a role our agency takes very seriously as evidence that cms administrator is in puerto rico assessing on the ground efforts in gaining valuable insights. many people think of cms as a pair and as a regulator overseeing andenforcing standards for care delivered. while cms does not directly provide we do have a direct impact on the care they receive and the last several weeks have allowed cms to demonstrate the important role we can play. one of the most valuable emergency response tools is our ability to waive or modify certain program requirements which cms can do afterthe president declares a major disaster. cms is using the full breadth of this authority to ensure our
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beneficiaries have access to the care they need so they can deliver high quality care to those who need it, when they need it and where they need it. we use waivers to allow medical providers to move patients between facilities and to expedite medicaid enrollment. already we have approved nearly 100 waivers in total across the impacted disaster areas. last month i joined on a visit to houston, texas where we were able to speak to several of those impacts including providers who demonstrated how important these were to them following an emergency. we want beneficiaries to focus on their immediate needs to provide urgent care without worrying about reimbursement policies and we heard during our visit what a difference those flexibilityies make why cms is taking an approach in meeting and working with stakeholders on an ongoing basis to make sure we understand their needs and are able to meet them. one of the top priorities has been to provide access to necessary care toone of the most vulnerable groups, dialysis patients. one of the ways we have done this is using our authority to designate dialysis facilities located in locations impacted by
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the hurricanes that are not yet certified to serve as special purpose dialysis facilities. in fact, we were able to designate one of these facilities in florida before the storm hit to ensure thatpatients were dialyzed in anticipation of the storm. in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands cms has been working closely with the response program to monitor conditions before, during and after the storms to predict the impact. here are two examples of our combined efforts. under the direction of one of our commission members we are working with these partners to track the operational status of dialysis facilities in puerto
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rico and their status with respect to fuel, water and other supplies as well as developing delivery schedules for for the supplies necessary and to treat the nearly 6,000 patients on the island. cms partnered with several partners to arrange supportfor approximately 120 patients evacuated to atlanta when conditions were no longer safe in the virgin islands. this included working with staff on the ground from day one to greet and medcally assess each patient as they arrived.unfortunately, these events will not be the last health emergencies. making sure providers are prepared for future disasters whether hurricane, wildfire is essential to insuring patient safety why cms requires all facilities to comply with basic health and safety requirements including emergencypreparedness standards. the updates include a
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more comprehensive approach to emergency planning and requiring facilities to thoroughly address hazards. we require facilities to meet standards for staff and implement communications system to contact patients, physicians and other necessarypersons to ensure continuation of patient care functions. while much has been done there is much to be done particularly in puerto rico where over 50% of the population is coveredthrough a cms program. together we must continue to think creatively about ways to ensure we have access to needed care, supplies and prescriptions in the midst of emergencies and natural disasters. we appreciate the subcommittee's interest in the efforts and look forward to irkingworking with youthroughout the process. good
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_ morning distinguished members -- morning, distinguished members. redd,ear admiral steven director of the center for disease control and office of public health preparedness and response. opportunity toe effortstoday and discss
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and activities in response to the 2017 hurricane. thsedress the impact of 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
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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. 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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?
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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. 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
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being used? ngue branch and puerto rico is being utilized during this recovery effort. 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?
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>> 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 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.
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>> 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 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.
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>> 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 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 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.
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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. 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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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. 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
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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 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
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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. 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.
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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. 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.
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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. 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
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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. 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.
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>> 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 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
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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. 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
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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, 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
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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 -- 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
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-- 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. 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
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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 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
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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 -- 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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. 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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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 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.
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 -- 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.
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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. 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
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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. 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
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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 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
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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. 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
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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. 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.
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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 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
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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, 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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. >> 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
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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 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.
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>> 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 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
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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 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
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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. >> 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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,
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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 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.
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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 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.
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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 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.
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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. 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
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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. 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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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. 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. >>
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>> there are also three islands with respect to the u.s. virgin islands. st. john, st. thomas, and st. >> i don't want us to see this as a monolith because each island has their own identity. deep enough died the into what is happening with the inhabitants of all of the territories because it is not one singular event, it is an event that had three separate geographic territories. i am putting that out there because i 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's are receiving health care.
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people of other areas receiving health care. we are not hearing that information and that is just as important. i would like to start my question about the evacuation process. what system was provided to prepare and evacuations plan for those whose health are compromised and what the coordination was provided in the wake of the hurricane to track evacuees who were sent to other islands and-or the mainland. i can probably address that in deference to your question. i would also highlight our map which identifies where hhs is augmentationiding support in st. john, st. croix, and the virgin islands. do your point about evacuation, again for the complexity of this , irma struck st. thomas
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first for which we were doing some unprecedented things. we were able to send in our teams for search and rescue and identify dialysis patients on the island. we recovered 120 of them and evacuated them to puerto rico until maria hit, at which point in time we evacuated them literally the day before. we day of landfall of maria, evacuated those patients to miami to a medical shelter there where we could ensure they were being cared for. in the cases of other patients who were evacuated from the virgin islands, they were evacuated through atlanta. again, receiving care through local resources. throughout, the intent was not only did we evacuate those dialysis patients but we sent
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them with a nonmedical attendant, and a family member to assist them along the way. at the present time, there has only been a handful of evacuations off the mainland. there were two that were evacuated from san juan to miami soon after landfall. what we tried to do is basically infrastructure and puerto rico because we are hopeful those people will get better and they need to be closer to family and support units there. the way we address the problem we createdico was several hospitals we augmented with a disaster medical assistance team and we took the benefit of a level one central trauma center where we made it one, if you will, using the term hub, a receiving hospital for high care patients. and we had a western hub we could basically run from
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basically the top down to collect patients, depending upon their acuity required. then we used dod assets, both grand ambulances and medevac on theters to response island and then we used naval assets to fly them. >> there is a document you have that outline set. that would be great if you could provide it. >> i can provide that too. >> i also wanted to talk about the public health challenges of these island territories. will need the assistance of the federal governments in the weeks, years, and months to come. what is the medicaid cap as it relates to the virgin islands with its already limited resources. do you support a full contribution, as the government did with katrina?
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-- grant: brandt: the federal map is set by congress. it is statutory. >> i am asking about your recommendation. right now you have the island, right? in oneterritories where case the u.s. virgin islands, their major employment is through tourism, right? no one is working. so, are we requiring that government to come up with a match or are we going to suspended in to do a full federal contribution as we did for katrina on the mainland? brandt: excuse me for not answering directly. we are pursuing that with the opposite of federal management. >> wonderful. i yield back, mr. chair.
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>> we recognize the gentleman from georgia, mr. carter. mr. chairman and thank you all for being here today. i appreciate your presence. i am going to assume this is going to cms, that is miss bran dt. help me here? i know the situation that exists in florida. are you close to requiring nursing homes to have generators? is that going to be a requirement and ken jubail eric briefly tell me how that would work? randt: thank you. we actually have an emergency preparedness role that requires generators, emergency preparedness plans, and training on a continual aces. >> will there be federal reimbursement for nursing homes? i spent much of my career as a nursing home consultant and i can tell you they are pushed to try to stay solvent as it is.
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will there be help for the or is this just another government mandate? brandt: that is something we're looking up at i cannot speak specifically about it at this time. >> thank you. the naval ship that was a medical ship, it was off the but not puerto rico being utilized. i want it to get your input on how we can do a better job in the future of making sure, from what i understand, it is a 150bed hospital bed only beds were being utilized at one time? what can we do to make that better? i mean, it is costing us $180 a day just have there and those people desperately need help. >> yes, sir. waspart of our work plan basically to comfort -- use the comfort to deal with high-type
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medical. hospitals on generators that nailed where we needed to urgently transfer critical patients somewhere. we were basically using the boat. icu on the >> we understand and appreciate that but it seems like we could have made better use of it and have we learned anything? is anything we could do differently to make a more accessible the future? >> we are looking at how we can utilize it more than as a stationary platform. to birth and one of the ports and print a regal. that has been an ongoing discussion with the department of public health and puerto rico to assess how we can use that more to their needs. >> ok. thank you. it is my understanding that the on a shortagee
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with medications that are not available, that they can be compounded. is that true? they can be compounded by pharmacies and they are put on the fda shortage list? >> we do not physically look at the opportunity to compound as an alternative forced solution for drug shortages. our staff would typically try to work to get the approved product packages apply and it might look to source the same product, overseas manufacturers, inspected by fda. it is the case in certain situations you might see practitioners go to approved compounding facilities within the confines of the statute to source certain tax. >> ok. so you are actually increasing access to alternate vacations? and that when you're trying to do? >> thanks to the new authorities
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our ability tos, identify shortages is further out from the actual shortage. we have been taking steps to try to mitigate the shortages that have occurred but also situations where we see the potential for products to tip into shortages. we are looking at approximately 1-2 months for what we think that potentially happen of production does not resume. 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.
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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? 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.
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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, 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
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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 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.
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the vehicle for .he transmission of the disease we are working closely with the 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.
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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. 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.
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>> 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, 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
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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 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
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.acilities the way to grants are structured are principally for health care facilities and for coalitions thereof. 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.
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>> 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 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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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 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.
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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 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.
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it is not common. .xposure to floodwaters >> hurricane harvey greeted so many health issues with chemical 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.
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the decision has been made to permanently clean up the facility. i was glad of that. are associated with this? parties inponsible 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.
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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 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
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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. 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
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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 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.
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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. 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
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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? 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
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you could start have rasping. particularly if you have asthma. when you have congestion -- wouldn't you have congestion? >> when you have those floodwaters -- >> 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?
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i would have to refer to the census. dialysis is available. that may be some services are not available. >> 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?
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island -- based on the swath of the hurricane, there we patientactue centro-medico was the 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
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using with the comfort. based on the long-term concern you have, what is your biggest organization the may be having? -- may have product 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
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employed by the industry. manufacturing jobs. estimates, 20he percent-30% of the gdp of puerto rico. i want to thank all of the 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
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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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