Medcor, Inc. is a designated FEMA response team, and provides onsite health and injury triage services. Medcor was deployed to Minot beginning July 28 to provide medical services to approximately 360 flood relief workers operating out of a field operations center.
"The value in having someone available onsite is that the workers will have immediate access to healthcare if they become injured or ill," said Curtis Smith, executive vice president of Medcor, Inc. "Many workers (in Minot) are from out of town or out of state, and don't have a local physician here. Providing the medical resources for your workers is just as fundamental as providing tents, food and water."
"Another benefit of having medical teams right on site is that when workers do get hurt, they don't become a burden on the local healthcare system that is already tied up in focusing on the local community," he added.
Submitted Photo - - Medcor’s mobile clinic, a designated response team for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, departs headquarters in McHenry, Ill.
Medcor provided onsite medical care during post-Sept. 11 recovery efforts in New York City, and to recovery workers helping in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. They also provide telemedicine services to 90,000 worksites in all 50 states and operate 175 onsite workplace clinics.
"In the process of growing our business, over time, a variety of our customers have been impacted by natural disasters, and we've been called on to help them," Smith said. "From that, we developed a rapid response and mobile capability."
In Minot, Medcor first deployed with a mobile clinic. Smith said the clinic is essentially a converted recreational vehicle, with living quarters for the crew, a waiting room and a fully equipped exam and treatment facility. The vehicle is stocked with basic medical supplies and emergency response equipment.
"The RV makes us less dependent on infrastructure," Smith said. "We have our own air conditioning, heat and lighting."
Medcor has since moved its operations into tents, setting up a cafeteria, living quarters for relief workers and a medical facility.
So far, health care professionals have treated response workers for minor injuries and illnesses that are commonly seen in disaster response situations.
"Every disaster or deployment has unique characteristics," Smith said. "However, there are a lot of similarities between them. In our role as a medical provider, we often see things such as exhaustion, sore throats, bee stings, infections, sprains and strains; and complications from underlying health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes."
"We're prepared to address a full range of medical issues," he added. "The kinds of injuries and issues are pretty common from one disaster to another. Relief workers are outdoors, exposed to the elements, and doing hard physical work. The sorts of exposures they have are similar from one deployment to another."
Medcor's role in Minot's recovery will be behind the scenes, but a necessary role nonetheless.
"The EMS system, the fire and rescue system and the hospital in Minot are available and functional, so we know we can coordinate care with local providers if needed," Smith said. "We'll take care of the more minor things."
"We're just there to support the workers who are doing the other (flood relief) work," he added. "We're a behind-the-scenes part of the infrastructure."