Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Published Date: 10/18/2017 1:32:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;
The halls of Hospital Buen Samaritano Calle Jose de Diego Aguadilla in Puerto Rico are quiet. The hospital was severely damaged during Hurricane Maria and only a few patients remain in the facility. However, there are still people in Aguadilla who need to be treated for everything from chronic conditions to the infections and injuries that are common in the wake of disasters.
To ensure that the health care needs of the residents in the Aguadilla community are met, HHS has set up a temporary medical facility that is open and operational. This facility is staffed with medical professionals from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and other federal partners who are ready to help.
The temporary facility is located close to the Hospital Buen Samaritano Calle Jose de Diego Aguadilla and word has gotten out to the community. Patients start arriving as early as 6:30 AM and a steady stream of patients comes to the hospital from the time that it opens at 8 AM to the time that it closes at 8 PM.
Although the main hospital was damaged, responders are still able to use the buildings around the hospital to admit patients. Members of the DOD Area Support Medical Company collect information from patients so that they can be seen by medical responders from NDMS Disaster Medical Assistance Teams.
Patients then are brought to the triage area of the hospital where medical professionals evaluate them and address their medical needs. The medical professionals have specialized training in disaster medicine and are familiar with the challenges of providing care in austere environments. When these NDMS medical professionals deployed, they brought caches of medical supplies, medical tents and other equipment that they would need to care for patients in the wake of the storm. These responders are working around the clock to care for patients while the health care system in Puerto Rico recovers.
Since the response began, NDMS medical professionals have helped treat people of all ages across Puerto Rico, including this little boy below who is recovering from a dog bite. Even before Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, federal response personnel from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Defense (DoD), and Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been coordinating efforts with local emergency response officials to ensure that medical care is available for Puerto Rico residents after the storm, and to re-establish the island’s healthcare infrastructure. Together, they have helped over 8,000 people get the care they need in the wake of the storm.
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