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. 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.
During the month of June, RMF Puerto Rico held outreaches in the urban areas of Dorado and Toa Baja, as well as the rural area of Comerío and Corozal. We visited communities, health fairs, and a nursing home, where community members received OTC medicines, influenza vaccines, multivitamins, and hygiene products to help them stay clean and healthy. Thanks to the donations from Direct Relief, we will be able to continue offering these essential health and hygiene supplies to the community.
The first, second, and third community health outreaches were carried out by a volunteer doctor from the Vega Alta Health Clinic, while the fourth outreach was supported by RMF team members Dr. Luis Gonzalez Bermudez and Dr. Emilio Rivera, as well as volunteers from the Angelorum Medical Aesthetics Pain Clinic. The fifth outreach was facilitated by RMF team member Dr. Emilio Rivera, volunteer medical students, and a volunteer registered nurse, the sixth outreach was carried out by a volunteer registered nurse from the Vega Alta Health Clinic.
On June 8, 2018, RMF participated in the health fair of Comerío in central Puerto Rico. Residents live with few economic resources and still do not have electricity or drinking water nine months after Hurricane Maria. We provided 70 children’s multivitamins and 118 children’s over-the-counter (OTC) medications to 56 families in this community.
On June 19, 2018, we held an outreach in the Doña Elena Community of Comerío in central Puerto Rico. Residents live with few economic resources and still do not have electricity or drinking water nine months after Hurricane Maria. We provided 53 children’s multivitamins, 9 children’s over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and 10 adult multivitamins to 84 families in this community.
On June 19, 2018, we also held an outreach in the Palomas Community of Comerío in central Puerto Rico. Residents live with few economic resources and still do not have electricity or drinking water nine months after Hurricane Maria. We provided 34 multivitamins and 34 over-the-counter (OTC) medications to families in this community.
We held an outreach at the Golden Age Tower, Sabana Seca, a retirement home in the town of Toa Baja on the northern coast of Puerto Rico. In this town, Hurricane Maria’s wrath swept some community members to their deaths. Many homes were flooded and filled with mud, while eight people drowned. During this outreach, we conducted health education and check-ups for diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, and arthritis, as well as providing 224 hygiene products and 5 influenza vaccines to 76 families in this community.
On June 20, 22, and 24, 2018, RMF held outreaches in the Padilla Community of Corozal, located in northern Puerto Rico. Residents live with few economic resources and still do not have electricity or drinking water nine months after Hurricane Maria. We were able to provide 295 hygiene products, 295 multivitamins, and 30 solar lamps to families in this community.
On June 28, 2018, we provided an immunization outreach in the Mameyal Community of Dorado, located in northern Puerto Rico. Residents live with few economic resources and still do not have electricity or drinking water nine months after Hurricane Maria. We were able to administer influenza vaccines to 12 community members.
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, as well as the support of LDS Charities and individual donors, we have been able to provide community members with the following items during the month of June:
Health education is also provided at the events, and beneficiaries include children, teenagers, and the elderly.
During the month of June, RMF Puerto Rico continued to distribute supplies received in previous shipments from Direct Relief, which included multivitamins, pediatric supplements, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, influenza vaccines, insulin for diabetic patients, soap, body wash, shampoo, Vaseline, sunscreen, surgical medical supplies, stethoscopes, and safety materials such as safety helmets, safety glasses, bactericidal water tablets, and solar lamps.
We also received the ninth Direct Relief shipment on June 28, 2018, valued at $18,082.11. OTC supplies and hygiene products were distributed through the outreaches at Comerío, Toa Baja, and Corozal, while influenza vaccines were administered in Toa Baja and Dorado. We coordinated with different clinics, nursing homes, communities, and government agencies.