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Resident Resources

Functional and Medical Needs Clients Urged to Register with the Health Department

Register NOW by calling:
(912) 691-7443  

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The Coastal Empire has been lucky when it comes to hurricanes; however, most experts agree that it's only a matter of time before the Georgia coast gets hit by a major storm.

The Chatham County Health Department maintains a Functional and Medical Needs Registry which consists of residents who may require medical assistance during emergency situations. Those on the Registry may need specially trained health care providers, special facilities equipped to meet their needs, and specialized vehicles and equipment for transport.

hurricanerita.jpgThe Registry is provided to the Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA). The Registry is truly a last resort, but if a hurricane is threatening our area, it is important CEMA and Health Department officials know where the most vulnerable residents are located so that evacuation assistance can be provided to them.

Here's how to register:

• Call the Functional and Medical Needs Coordinator at the Chatham County Health Department, (912) 691-7443.
• The coordinator will request your mailing information and send you a special needs enrollment form to complete and return to the Health Department.

The application can also be downloaded from the Coastal Health District website.

When the form has been completed, it can be mailed to:
Chatham County Health Department
Attn: Functional and Medical Needs Coordinator
1395 Eisenhower Drive
Savannah, GA 31406

It is important to note that people living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and personal care homes aren't eligible for the Functional and Medical Needs Registry and must follow their facility's emergency plan.

How the Registry Works
Functional and medical needs persons are categorized into five levels. If you meet the criteria for levels one or two, you are not eligible for the Registry. If you meet the criteria for levels three, four, or five, your name will be entered into the Registry.

Functional and Medical Needs Definitions

Levels ONE and TWO: Not eligible for the registry
Level one and level two clients are not eligible for the Registry. The definition for level one and level two clients is: "Persons who are independent and capable of self-care requiring only minimal support for minor illnesses and injuries, and persons with conditions requiring observation or minor supportive assistance in activities of daily living (i.e. independent with some family/caretaker support).

If a county mandatory evacuation is ordered, level one and two clients who do not have personal transportation will be advised to go by any CAT bus to the Savannah Civic Center for evacuation to a public shelter.

Levels THREE, FOUR and FIVE: Eligible for the registry
Level three, four, and five clients are eligible for the Registry.

The definition of level three residents is: "Persons with conditions requiring some level of privacy or separation but do not require skilled or continuous health care support from facility staff."

Some examples of level three residents include those with moderate Alzheimer's or dementia; those requiring assistance from a family member or caretaker for activities of daily living; those with portable oxygen; and dialysis patients.

The definition of level four residents is: "Persons requiring frequent or continuous surveillance for potentially life-threatening conditions or require bedding or bathroom facilities not available in the (public) shelter."

Some examples of level four residents include those requiring assistance with toileting; those with limited mobility who cannot sleep on a cot or transfer; brittle diabetics or epileptics; oxygen dependent persons; and those with severe dementia or psychiatric conditions.

The definition of level five residents is: "Those requiring skilled care, continuous observation, or special equipment and services usually found in a hospital."

Some examples of level five residents include those needing IV feeding or medication; those completely bedfast requiring total care; those with uncontrolled chronic or acute physical or mental conditions; women in active labor; and those with significant injuries, difficulty breathing, or prolonged pain.

If you are not accepted into the Functional and Medical Needs Program, you will be immediately called by the Health Department and advised to make other arrangements for evacuation and sheltering.

superdome.jpgIf you are accepted into the Program and a mandatory evacuation order is about to happen, you will be advised by the United Way 2-1-1 staff to prepare. As the evacuation begins, you will be called a second time by the United Way staff and told the specific time you will be picked-up by Teleride or an ambulance.

Level three and four clients will be taken to a Functional and Medical Needs Center for evaluation and transportation to a special needs shelter.

If the evaluation results in a designation of level one or two, you will be taken home where you may take a CAT bus to the Civic Center for transportation to shelter. If the evaluation process results in your being designated at level five, you will be taken to a local hospital or inland shelter.

Clients accepted at level five will be called by the United Way 2-1-1 staff and told the time of pick-up. When you receive the call, you will be told to be prepared to evacuate immediately and will be given a list of things that you must take to the hospital.

During an evacuation or unexpected emergency, when there is not enough time for normal registration:
• All requests to be placed on the Functional and Medical Needs Registry will be recorded by the Coordinator.
• The Coordinator will refer you to public health nursing for telephone screening.
• When the screening is complete, if you are evaluated at level one or two, you will be told to take a CAT bus to the Civic Center for transportation to shelter.
• If accepted into the Registry at level three, four, or five, you will be told by the Coordinator and asked to await instructions from United Way 2-1-1.

Persons registered in the database will be contacted twice a year to verify their medical condition and update their information. When a storm is about three days (72 hours) from Chatham County, you will be called by United Way 2-1-1 and told:
• That an evacuation is possible.
• To prepare your essential items' kit that includes medications and important documents.
• To be prepared to evacuate within one hour of the next call.

You will be picked up by Teleride or by ambulance and taken to a Functional and Medical Needs Center or local hospital where you will be given a document pouch for use during transportation to your destination. Your registration form, medical history, allergies record and medications list will be placed in the document pouch.

ambulances.jpgYour name will be placed on a tracking form and you will be given an identification number. This number, along with your name and destination, will be placed on a bracelet that you will wear to your destination during the evacuation.

Pets will only be allowed at the Center if they are in a carrier and you have your pet's current immunization records; or if they are service animals assisting disabled persons (these animals must remain with their owner at all times). Animal Control will provide staff and equipment to temporarily care for animals that are brought to the Center.

When reentry is authorized, the evacuation process will be reversed and you will be returned to your home.

All may be quiet in the Atlantic Basic and Gulf of Mexico now, but that could change quickly. So if you qualify for the Functional and Medical Needs Registry, don't wait to register. Being prepared is the best way to ensure your safety during a disaster.

Last Updated: June 25, 2014 10:29 AM