When Disasters Strike
It was just a coincidence that Sergio Velasco was in Texas when Hurricane Harvey ripped through Houston. He had planned this business trip long before the weather forecasts warned of impending devastation.
Some people might consider that bad timing. But actually, it was quite fortunate.
Velasco, a Service Operations director who has spent 28 years working for Aetna, was in the right place at the right time. From Dallas, he and a team of Aetna colleagues traveled hundreds of miles to visit shelters outside Houston for more than a week, helping those who had been evacuated and displaced by the storm.
“My manager told me we needed to see if we could help in any way,” Velasco said. “Whatever they needed, we could help.”
Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 40 inches of water on Texas and Louisiana. At one Red Cross Shelter, Velasco met a woman who said her elderly mother was still stuck in Houston. The storm had flooded her home and washed away all her prescription medicine.
“So, I said: Let me see how I can help,” Velasco said. “I called the member and she was in a very bad situation traveling with family members and staying in a hotel outside Houston sharing one room.”
Velasco arranged to have the prescriptions delivered to her hotel room. He received a text message from the woman soon after: “Thank You to you and Aetna.”
At Aetna, we’re committed to building a healthier world, one community at a time. Sometimes, that means rebuilding a community, helping members—and employees—who may be going through the toughest moment of their lives.
The past year was a tough moment for a lot of people. It was one of the most active hurricane seasons in recorded history, with three giant storms, billions of dollars in damage, and tens of thousands of people left homeless.
Dealing with that kind of destruction requires planning. Our business resiliency team keeps an eye on developing hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters, allowing us to move quickly when needed.And we were needed.
Aetna modified our pharmacy policies, so our members could refill prescriptions early. We helped members who had been evacuated from their homes find care and behavioral health support. We extended deadlines for filing claims and appeals.
Our Resources For Living® program provided assistance finding shelters and government resources. We opened up these services to everyone affected by the hurricanes, whether they were members or not. The same went for Teladoc®, our telehealth provider: We made free “virtual” medical services available to everyone dealing with the hurricanes.
Like Velasco, Maria Mendez—a 12-year Aetna veteran currently working as an account executive—didn’t hesitate to lend a hand after Hurricane Harvey. Born and raised in Dallas, she felt a personal obligation as well as a moral one. With a book of clients in the Houston area, Mendez used her expertise and her bilingual skills to help evacuees. She remembers seeing the “fear of the unknown” in their faces. Despite their hardships, many were happy just to have survived the storm.