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Home Health Care Maria-ravaged Puerto Rico still struggling to provide health care

Maria-ravaged Puerto Rico still struggling to provide health care

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Army bringing in more equipment to help in Puerto Rico
Video provided by AFP
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Puerto Rico’s health care system is being pushed to its limits in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria as hospitals and clinics grapple with crippling losses of power, fuel and medical supplies.   

Residents and aid workers have described a battered island struggling with significant fuel and power shortages, making it difficult for health care facilities to meet the needs of the sick and elderly. Much of the island’s communications is also down, they say, compounding the crisis.

“If you’re someone who is in need of emergency medical care or urgent medical care, it’s a very difficult situation,” said Garrett Ingoglia, vice president of emergency response of AmeriCares, a relief organization that sent a team to Puerto Rico in recent days.  

“People are being turned away from health facilities. There are long waits. Or it’s just very difficult to get to health facilities because of debris or damage or lack of fuel.”

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waived shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico at the request of its governor and after criticism from members of Congress. The waiver lifts the Jones Act, which does not allow foreign vessels to pick up and deliver fuel between U.S. ports.  

“We are doing as much as we can and as quickly as we can,” Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec told USA TODAY on Thursday.

He acknowledged: “But we do recognize that for people in need, it will never be fast enough.” 

Medical centers in the region are slowly getting back on their feet. Fifty-nine of the island’s 69 hospitals were accepting new patients or maintaining patient care, though they were still running on generator power, Kadlec said during a press call Friday.

Power was recently restored to Centro Médico Hospital in San Juan, the main hospital on the island. The USNS Comfort, an 894-foot Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms, is expected to arrive in the area Tuesday. 

Follow Sarah Toy on Twitter: @sarahtoy17

Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2k7FBMR

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