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Direct Relief Providing Aid to Midwest Communities Hit by Tornadoes

Goleta organization is in touch with 100 clinics and health centers in affected areas

Immediately after the storms hit last week in the Midwest, Direct Relief USA, based in Goleta, began providing medical assistance to the communities impacted by the deadly tornadoes.

The first shipments of medical supplies — including tetanus vaccines, first aid, and chronic care medications — are being used by health facilities in Kansas and Southern Illinois to help the many families who have been displaced from their homes. Additional shipments are being delivered to Missouri and Illinois to help care for tornado-ravaged communities such as Puxico and Oak Ridge, where more than 3,200 residents have been displaced by the storms.

Direct Relief USA has worked closely with nonprofit clinic partners in the impacted communities during the past six years and is now in touch with 100 nonprofit clinics and health centers in affected areas.

As the severe storms unfolded, Direct Relief alerted nonprofit clinic and health center members in the impacted area that its current inventory of more than $60 million in medical supplies and pharmaceuticals was available and would be delivered immediately if needed. The robust inventory was due to contributions from health-care companies that support Direct Relief’s humanitarian and emergency-response programs.

“Our hearts go out to those who have been affected by this awful tragedy,” said Damon Taugher, director of Direct Relief USA. “Direct Relief has worked closely with partners in these communities over the past six years, and we are thankful that the procedures we use every day allow us to assist at times like this when speed, precision, local contacts, and good information are needed.”

The clinics receiving assistance are among the more than 1,000 nonprofit clinics and health centers nationwide enrolled in the Direct Relief USA network, through which medical product donations are provided to assist low-income, uninsured patients on an on-going basis and in response to emergencies.

Direct Relief USA is the only nonprofit medical aid organization licensed to distribute pharmaceuticals to all 50 states, and is a Verified Accredited Wholesale Pharmacy through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which sets stringent guidelines for handling pharmaceuticals. In 2011, the Direct Relief USA program furnished more than $50 million in medications and medical supplies to nonprofit community clinics in all 50 states and provided cash grants totaling more than $283,000 to five health-care partners after widespread flooding and tornadoes.

The organization recently won the prestigious 2011 Peter F. Drucker Institute Award for Nonprofit Innovation for its use of technology in the Direct Relief USA program and for bringing efficiencies to humanitarian efforts worldwide.

— Kelley Kaufman is the communications manager for Direct Relief International.

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