After our initial needs assessment in October 2017, RMF Founder and CEO Dr. Martina Fuchs visited Puerto Rico in early December 2017, strengthening ties with local authorities, medical professionals, and organizations. RMF then began working closely with Dr. Luis Gonzalez Bermudez, who oversees 5 medical facilities in the Vega Alta municipality.
Thanks to support from LDS Charities and individual donors, we began supporting the operations of these 5 health clinics and hospitals, and Dr. Martina Fuchs returned in February 2018 to guide our Puerto Rico team as per next steps of the program.
Through RMF, the clinics are also receiving essential medical supplies, dietary supplements, safety equipment, and personal hygiene products from Direct Relief International. These supplies are used to serve patients in the clinics, support community outreaches, and contribute to the safety of local maintenance and construction workers.
RMF Puerto Rico has been continually providing health outreaches throughout rural and urban areas most impacted by Hurricane Maria, focusing our efforts on inland towns where health services and support are most needed.
After providing 563 community members with influenza vaccines in the first two weeks of March 2018 RMF Puerto Rico started to hold OTC outreaches focused on distributing over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, multivitamins, and hygiene products, on March 19, 2018.
During these two weeks, RMF Puerto Rico held outreaches in the urban areas of Dorado, Toa Baja, Comerío, and Bayamón, as well as the rural areas of Toa Alta, Vega Baja, Morovis, Naranjito, and Manatí. We visited rehabilitation centers, communities, clinics, churches, and housing developments. Thanks to the supply donation from DRI we will be able to continue offering these essential health and hygiene supplies to the community.
On March 19, 2018, the first of these events was held in the Alto de Cuba Community of Vega Baja, where homelessness and drug addiction are prevalent. Both problems have been exacerbated by the destruction of Hurricane Maria. At this location, we were able to distribute 30 multivitamins, 108 hygiene products, and 30 over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.
This same day, another outreach was held at the Angelorum Medical Aesthetics Pain Clinic in Dorado. The clinic works to improve patients’ quality of life by addressing physical, mental, and spiritual needs, uniting traditional and alternative medicine to uphold fair treatment and humane values.
On March 20, 2018, we held an OTC outreach at Dr. Nabyl Salah’s medical office, located in the hard-hit town of Toa Baja, where Hurricane Maria’s wrath swept some residents to their deaths. Many homes were flooded and filled with mud, while eight people drowned. Dr Salah’s medical office treats many patients on a daily basis, and we were glad to boost the clinic’s services through this outreach.
Also on March 20, 2018, we conducted an outreach at Dr. Melito’s medical office, located in the town of Naranjito in the central region of Puerto Rico. During Hurricane Maria, many homes, businesses, roads, bridges, and government buildings suffered major damage from strong winds and heavy rain in the area. Many patients are assisted here on a daily basis, and we were glad to boost the clinic’s services through this outreach.
RMF Puerto Rico held our next OTC outreach at the Dr. Jorge Cedeño Office Clinic on March 22, 2018. The week before, we had held our largest influenza immunization outreach here. This clinic belongs to Dr. Jorge Cedeño and is located in the town of Toa Baja, close to the northern coast of Puerto Rico. Many patients are assisted here on a daily basis, and we were glad to further boost the clinic’s services through this second outreach.
The Palomas Community of Comerío is located in the northern part of Puerto Rico’s Cordillera Central mountain range, where residents live with few economic resources and still do not have electricity or drinking water six months after Hurricane Maria. We were able to provide over-the-counter (OTC) vitamins and hygiene products to 61 families (over 300 people) in this community.
On March 27, 2018, we carried out an influenza immunization outreach at the Levittown Medical Center Clinic in Toa Baja. It is the most modern and progressive medical center in the area. The Levittown Medical Center Clinic facilities include an ER, clinical laboratory, and pharmacy, and services include x-rays, sonograms, physical therapy, vaccination, electrocardiography, and dentistry, among others.
On that same day, we conducted an influenza immunization outreach and distributed multivitamins to community members in the De La Trocha Community of Vega Baja. This is a community where homelessness and drug addiction are prevalent, and both problems have been exacerbated by the destruction of Hurricane Maria.
On March 28, 2018, we visited the Miranda Community of Vega Baja, located in the northern area of Puerto Rico, where residents live with few economic resources and still do not have electricity or drinking water six months after Hurricane Maria. During this outreach, held at the Pentecostal Church of God, we were able to provide 100 adult multivitamins and 36 children’s multivitamins to 42 families in this community.
On March 28, 2018, we conducted an important influenza immunization outreach at the Bayamón Police Department, which serves the entire metro area of Bayamón. The officers are exposed to influenza as they are constantly in the street providing police services. 41 patients were immunized at the Bayamon Police Department.
Another influenza immunization and over-the-counter multivitamin outreach was held on March 28, 2018 at the Los Murales public housing development in Manatí, where low-income families reside and there is a high rate of crime and drug use.
A fourth influenza immunization and multivitamin outreach was conducted at the Esdras 10.4 Women’s Rehabilitation Center. Esdras is a Christian rehabilitation center for women who struggle with addiction, alcoholism, and/or homelessness.
Our last influenza and multivitamin outreach was held at Sanando Heridas Men’s Rehabilitation Center. Sanando Heridas is a Christian rehabilitation center for men who struggle with drug addiction.
On September 20, 2017, Category 4 Hurricane Maria hit the US territory of Puerto Rico. The winds, 155 miles per hour at landfall, completely wiped out the island’s power grid and phone towers. A flash flood emergency was declared in central Puerto Rico, and the island experienced record flooding.
Prior to the hurricane, Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was weak, and the storm left the small island crippled. Across the island, cities reported collapsed bridges and severe damage to roadways. On October 2, almost two weeks after the storm, 55% of people were still without access to drinking water, only 1 of 69 hospitals was fully operational, and 80% of the island’s crops had been destroyed. The full extent of the damage is still unclear, as most telephone and internet lines are still down. The damage has left many rural areas isolated, without access to communication or desperately needed supplies: food, water, shelter, and medical supplies.
Thanks to the in-kind donations from Direct Relief International, as well as the support of LDS Charities and individual donors, we have been able to conduct 13 outreaches which supplied:
Health education is also provided at the events, and beneficiaries included many children and the elderly.
On February 28, 2018, we received the second and third shipments from DRI and on March 13, 2018, we received the fourth shipment. These shipments included:
The shipments were valued at $166,745.52, $1,614,406.68, and $149,459.94, respectively.