Diabetes Emergency Relief Coalition Continues to Support Puerto Rico and the Caribbean after Hurricane Maria


Michelle Kirkwood

Arlington, Virginia
October 2, 2017

1-800-DIABETES is open for patients, and 1-314-INSULIN hotline (phone and text messages) for physicians and health care providers who need diabetes supplies

Convened by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a group of eight leading diabetes care and research organizations continue, through their Diabetes Emergency Relief Coalition (DERC), to help provide critical diabetes supplies to regions impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. 

Given the extremely limited communication capacity and logistical challenges to ensure the safe and timely delivery of supplies to Puerto Rico, the group is coordinating through the professional members of the DERC, volunteers and relief organizations to identify needs. Supplies were shipped to Puerto Rico prior to Hurricane Maria’s landfall, and, thanks to the many supply donations to Insulin for Life USA, the DERC has sent another shipment of life-saving insulin and diabetes management supplies following Maria. These shipments have been made possible through personal deliveries to health care providers using volunteer-based private flights. 

With the Jones Act being lifted last Thursday, we are hopeful that regular shipments by sea will resume soon, and that the airport will lift more flight restrictions so that the DERC can continue to arrange timely and secure delivery of diabetes supplies and insulin where they are needed. The DERC hopes that additional challenges related to the transportation chain (fuel shortages, lack of trucks and their drivers, roads that are impassable) will soon be overcome and our ability to provide vital supplies to those in need will be fully restored. 

The most significant and accessible resources are two phone lines for assistance: 

1-800-DIABETES for individuals with diabetes care needs; and 

1-314-INSULIN for physicians and health care providers to request diabetes supplies.

ADA’s Center for Information, 1-800-DIABETES, is open from 8:30 a.m. ET to 8:00 p.m. ET (7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. CT), Monday through Friday.

The 1-314-INSULIN supply request hotline is staffed by members of the DERC and open from 9:00 a.m. ET to 6:00 p.m. ET (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT), Monday through Friday. Physicians and health care providers in need of supplies can also contact the hotline via text message and via WhatsApp. 

Please check diabetes.org/hurricanerelief for the latest information, including specific resources for support in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and other islands in the Caribbean including the U.S. Virgin Islands, and:

How to donate unexpired and unopened diabetes supplies to Insulin for Life USA

Link to list of open Walgreen’s pharmacies in Puerto Rico

Link to list of open CVS pharmacies in Puerto Rico

Link to list of open pharmacies in the hurricane-impacted regions (This website is updated regularly.)

Live map of open shelters from the American Red Cross or 1-800-RED-CROSS

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hurricane resources

Department of HHS support services, HHS Disaster Distress Line 1-800-985-5990

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or 1-800-621-3362

To check on the status of loved ones in Puerto Rico, the Federal Affairs Administration asks family and friends to call 202-778-0710 or to send an email to maria1@prfaa.pr.gov

During an emergency crisis such as this, it is critical for people with diabetes to have access to the medications and testing supplies needed to maintain proper blood glucose control, and to prevent serious sudden complications such as hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia¹. 

The Diabetes Emergency Relief Coalition, convened by the American Diabetes Association, includes JDRF, Insulin for Life USA, Endocrine Society, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Association of Diabetes Educators, Research! America and T1D Exchange. For more information about the DERC, click here. Every day since September 3, the DERC has sent one to two packages to the areas impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, each package containing approximately 80-100 pounds of insulin and diabetes management supplies.

1 W Cefalu et. al. The Hurricane Katrina Aftermath and Its Impact on Diabetes Care. Diabetes Care 29:1, 158-160. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/29/1/158.