Five years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island suffered another massive hurricane that left at least one person dead and thousands without power, running water, and shelter. While federal funds will provide some help, much more will be required to meet both the immediate and longer-term relief and recovery needs of Puerto Ricans. Local organizations are mobilizing quickly to answer the call. But to do all that’s being asked, they need more support urgently from all of us.
One organization delivering healthcare and other services to children and families in Puerto Rico’s hard-hit and under-resourced communities is Puerto Rico Children’s Health Project (PRCHP). Established in the aftermath of Maria in the Fall of 2018, PRCHP is a partnership between Salud Integral en la Montaña (SIM) and Children’s Health Fund (CHF).
PRCHP will use its mobile clinics, telehealth, and nine fixed-site clinics in seven municipalities across the northern region of the island. As Dr. Gloria del C. Amador Fernández, president and CEO of SIM, told CNN in an interview Monday night, their four emergency rooms, all using generators to provide power, are operating round the clock. “So we are ready,” she said. “We know that we will start seeing patients late tonight or early tomorrow.”
In addition to their response to Hurricane Maria, PRCHP jumped into action on December 2019 after a 6.4 earthquake caused major devastation and again in early 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic struck. And because over 90% of the program’s patients live in poverty and the majority live in geographically isolated and under-resourced communities, such as the central mountainous region, PRCHP is well prepared to lead this effort.
Children’s Health Fund has a long history of responding to disasters and public health crises, dating back to 1992 after Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida; and then in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Like PRCHP, each of those three national network programs came into being in response to disasters.
While having a strong partner on the ground in Puerto Rico to lend a hand to those in need gives us some hope, we also know we cannot do this work alone. Any support, no matter the amount, will help further and sustain relief and recovery efforts. If you are in a position to help, we invite you to donate by clicking the link below.