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Answering the call: Local doctors, nurses prepare to head to Texas

Volunteers with Medical Teams International in Portland, Oregon pack up hygiene kits Thursday to send them to those who need them in Houston, Texas. (KATU Photo)

Medical professionals are assessing the needs right now in Houston as residents there still struggle in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Some local doctors and nurses are flying to Texas to do what they can while other groups are sending hygiene kits and medical supplies. The need for doctors, nurses and medical supplies is great. And whether it’s time or money, people are pitching in to help those in need.

“We really wanted to do something to help the people of Houston,” said Martha Newsome, CEO of Medical Teams International.

Volunteers with Medical Teams International were busy bagging hygiene kits Thursday. The kits included toothbrushes, soap and washcloths. Each box will go to Houston to families who lost everything.

“I think all of us can imagine what it would be like for us to lose our home, to be with our family, to be stuck in a shelter,” Newsome said.

After consulting with the teams on the ground in Texas, Newsome anticipates having to send basic medical supplies as well.

“If you think about people who’ve been wading in the water and what kinds of cuts and bruises they might have experienced on the way of trying to get out -- so those are the kinds of supplies that might be needed,” she said.

“It was pretty intense. A lot of the images I saw I knew the streets that were flooding,” said Dr. Shana Kusin, an emergency room doctor with Oregon Health & Science University.

She was busy packing Thursday night. She and a small group of other medical personnel are flying to Texas for a week to help in any way they can.

“I’m pretty much heading straight to the football stadium where they’re housing all these people who’ve been displaced, and just trying to help out wherever I can,” she said.

“I think it’s drawing on the best of who we are as Americans, that we really want to be there,” Newsome said.

She said she’s gotten a lot of phone calls from people who want to help. She said the best thing you can do is give money. Because they buy all their supplies in bulk, they can stretch that dollar a lot further than what one person could buy.

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