Puerto Rico Part II – Medical Issues

 In Domestic

Puerto Rico is struggling under a desperate need for medical help, that in some cases is not happening. We spoke with a disaster relief worker who explained some of the issues that are creating havoc…they were described to us as “humanitarian crimes.”

The fight to get medical care  

An example: a veteran and his son – who had serious medical issues – were in area that had flooding and no communication.  Relief workers were trying to find a way to help the son, and it became extremely difficult. The son was so sick he could not communicate.

“He was wasting away in front of my eyes.”

They did manage to get 2 doctors out to him, but they advised the the relief workers that there was “no way” the man would get better in that environment. Hence, evacuation was necessary.

They got an ambulance to take him to a field hospital, where they hoped he could get assistance to allow him intake on the USNS Comfort. (Patients must have the approval of a hospital and proper paperwork to board the hospital ship). Aid workers were able to finally get him that approval.

By then the man had spent several hours in an ambulance. Officials directed him to a MASH unit that was only open from 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. – by the time he got there they were closed.

Members of the military volunteered to watch him overnight.  When morning came, the process did not work as originally communicated, and the intake to the USNS Comfort was cancelled.

Amateur civilian ham radio operators had created a network of communication between hospitals for about 3 weeks. By this time, they had left, which made a difficult situation even worse.

Relief workers have involved a variety of  federal agencies, NGOs,and legislators to work on this case. Disaster relief flights are difficult to obtain, in part because they are expensive. His situation is not totally resolved as of this writing. The man has been to no less than 5 hospitals, only the last of which has made a solid effort to help him – they are thoroughly overwhelmed. But he still needs to be taken to a hospital on the mainland, which is something the relief workers are attempting to handle at this time.

 The pressure on relief workers

Many of the relief workers receive calls incessantly from people stranded in the mountains, children who are acutely ill, water purification issues, the need for gas to power generators, veterans that need supplies, even the need for more body bags at the morgue [Note: we have information that the death toll from various issues from landslides to Leptospirosis is far higher than is being reported], and many other critical situations too numerous to count. Then there are the accusations that FEMA is stockpiling food and water and not releasing it.

It never ends. Relief workers are exhausted both emotionally and physically. In Part III some revelations about the reasons Puerto Rico is still in the throes of desperation.

 

Featured photo from Oath Keepers – helping folks in Puerto Rico.

Related:

Puerto Rico is Still Struggling

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