Diabetics especially Type 1 diabetics should have an emergency plan. As an endocrinologist, I was a first-hand witness to the issues that faced our diabetic patients both during Hurricane Harvey and COVID 19.
Hurricane Harvey that hit Houston in 2017, caught us ill-prepared. Our diabetic patients, who are dependent on life-saving medications, such as insulin were all of a sudden without insulin. We, as a community, should never be off guard again.
So many things happened at the same time that caused this emergency, such as
-insulin was lost in the flood waters.
-insulin was inaccessible due to the floodwaters and live electrical wires in the water.
-loss of electricity caused the insulin to denature in the fridge .
-pharmacies were closed for repairs, so access to new medications was unavailable.
-Insulin formularies constantly change making it harder for patients to memorize their regimen.
-Loss of health coverage
-loss of insurance card
Ultimately many patients were forced to ration their insulins. After hurricane Katrina, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists came out with a hurricane or emergency preparedness plan. All endocrinologists have started to instruct their patients about emergency preparedness plans. Click here to print the checklist.
Similarly, COVID 19 leading to stay at home mandate has caused a similar issue but to a lesser degree.
An article in the Houston Chronicle mentions the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund) helping Type 1 diabetics during this time. In a future scenario where you may be in an acute need for insulin, you can consider calling the Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition at 1-314-Insulin. Additionally, if all else fails, then you can consider picking up a vial of NPH or regular Insulin, without a prescription, from Walmart for approximately $25. Please discuss with your doctor in regards to the dose alterations.
Speak to your diabetes specialist or endocrinologist if you need further guidance. Utilize the resources to have an emergency kit with adequate supplies before the next disaster. Let us work together as a team to be well prepared.