Electric-dependent patients the concern in Michael's wake says HHS chief

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, the federal government is paying close attention to people who need medical help, and rely on electricity for it.

Florida has one of the oldest populations in the country, and many have their lifelines running off electricity.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, “We really worry especially about dialysis patients.”

With power and communication lines down, health professionals are digging through Medicare file to find those in desperate need of help.

Azar said, “We know every senior citizen who is dependent on electricity for their medical care, and the states can plug right into that and they can find everybody, they can track them down and makes sure they’re doing okay.”

According to HHS' "emPOWER" database, there are nearly 500 electric-dependent patients in the Panama City area alone. Azar said reaching them is among the priority.

Officials are also urging people not to run generators within 20 feet of their house because of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning