Written By: Beth Blevins

Widespread flooding in southern Louisiana last month damaged at least 100,000 homes and killed 13 people. The impact was felt mostly in urban Baton Rouge and surrounding neighborhoods.

But the flooding also affected rural areas and rural clinics. According to Tracie Ingram, director of the Louisiana SORH, two independent Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), which the SORH helped establish, experienced massive flooding.

“Thanks to the SORH Grant and our relationship with these providers, we found out immediately and were able to assist them in getting relocated and retain their licenses,” Ingram said. Both RHCs were back up serving rural citizens in alternative locations within four days of being flooded. “Through our relationship with the Louisiana Rural Health Association (LRHA), they were given $1,000 each for supplies and we are working on obtaining more funding. Also, AmeriCares sent both RHCs supplies and gave one clinic $37,000 to help obtain a modular building. Both RHCs are expected to be back in permanent locations by mid-September.”

In addition to the RHCs, Ingram said, one rural FQHC had to be closed because of the flood, mostly due to worry about possible mold and moisture underneath. Since then it has been tested and treated, and is now back in operation. While the facility was shut down, the FQHC’s staff worked at a local shelter to make sure that patients still retained access to medical care.

“I’ve never been more proud of our rural providers,” Ingram concluded.  “If they were down temporarily, many served in shelters or they joined together to get each other back and operating. Competitors truly have become friends and clinic saviors. While this has been trying and stressful, it has forged bonds that can’t be broken. It has been an awesome collaboration. We are truly thankful for them and to have been able to help through the SORH, FLEX, and SHIP programs.”

The LRHA has established a “Crowd Funding” website where individuals and organizations can contribute money to help rural communities and providers that have been impacted by the flood. The goal is to raise $10,000. For more information, go to the Help Louisiana Rural Health Clinics website.

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