Still At It

Still At It

October 2, 2017

In our tenth year, we find our team as busy as ever during this hurricane season. For the past 40 days, we have had to focus solely on the emergency response and meeting the needs of patients in the affected regions. We are fully engaged in these response efforts, and we are still here for support. Our team is continuing to work diligently on efficient response to the growing number of challenges related to Hurricane Maria, and the on-going recovery from Irma and Harvey.

A current challenge in Puerto Rico has been the movement of medicines and medical supplies. At this time, we have identified that there are complexities/difficulties surrounding the infrastructure and the ability to navigate through the territory. We are hard at work trying to formulate or identify solutions and execute them as quickly as possible.

  • Blocked Roads - As of 9/27, only 20 % of truck drivers were able to report to work after the hurricane struck, making it difficult to transport aid where it is needed. A diesel fuel shortage has been a further contributor to the issue.
  • Cell Towers Down - This has made communication with drivers challenging; there is no way to contact drivers stuck at the Port of San Juan with supplies, as more than 90 percent of cell towers remain out of service. There are currently 9,000 cargo containers with supplies that are waiting to be distributed to their respective recipients.

Due to the possibility of severe weather approaching Puerto Rico in the coming days, we are prepared for additional impacts on the healthcare sector. That said, we continue to assess current patient needs and as well as attempt to identify future ones.

  • Heavy rains and flash flooding are anticipated by the weekend, which would continue to adversely impact the territory- particularly by causing stress on dams (The Guajataca Dam is already at risk for failure) and further damage to roads. In the midst of that, there would still be significant need for provision of medical supplies. Since access to clean water on the island has been problematic, flooding would be a further contributor to increases in ailments such as gastroenteritis caused by tainted drinking water. A local health center has recently reported treating an average of over 100 cases of gastroenteritis per day.

With knowledge of these challenges, Healthcare Ready strives to be an organization that avoids duplicating relief efforts carried out by other organizations. Instead, by identifying gaps we are able to streamline and implement solutions to problems that arise. In the meantime, stay tuned for more updates via our website and social media. Thank you again for all of your patience as our team works diligently to bring about solutions. If you have questions, we are here to help!

 

Sarah Baker, MPP

Sarah Baker is the Programs Manager at Healthcare Ready. In this capacity, she leads the policy development, research, and programmatic efforts to the organization's preparedness initiatives. Prior to joining Healthcare Ready, Sarah served as a consultant to the Department of Homeland Security and a variety of private sector organizations, during which time she supported the design, conduct, and evaluation of scores of preparedness exercises. Sarah received her Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy and holds a B.A. degree from the University of Notre Dame.