Medical Volunteer Lashes Out About Lack of Hurricane Response Medicine

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

While the American Red Cross and Salvation Army are handling the bulk of Hurricane Katrina's disaster recovery, smaller rescue operations are flat out angry. They argue there's too much red tape and too little blue pills to get people feeling better.

Machesney Park's Laura Lehrke and her daughter are part of a 28-person group from northern Illinois assisting in the Baton Rouge area.

Lehrke says she treats between 500 and 600 people each day, comparing the sites to a MASH unit. That's because limited medicine for Lehrke's team traveling throughout Louisiana means lice, pink eye and diaper rash are running rampant.

Lehrke says she's in desperate need for more antibiotics, pills and ointment cream. The volunteer says her team is buying medicine out of their own wallets to help get the sick and struggling Hurricane Katrina victims back to health.

"These people have great needs and we're going around trying to treat them with one a day vitamins and a band aid and rubbing alcohol. We can't get drugs and prescriptions filled because we need Medicare and Social Security card numbers, and they say that we don't, but when we try to get drugs for them from the Red Cross or anybody else, we are getting all this red tape," Lehrke said.

Lehrke says at each of the medical sites the people are appreciative and loving. She says they're not asking for much; they just want to be healthy and alive.


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