- Active Recovery
- September 20, 2017 -Present
Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 4 storm in Puerto Rico, causing an estimated $94 billion in damages; some studies attribute nearly 3,000 deaths to the hurricane and its aftermath. Many survivors lived for months without power or safe water and little or no access to health services. Hurricane Maria also devastated Dominica and caused considerable damage in other Caribbean islands, including the U.S. Virgin Islands. Today, Americares work continues in Dominica and Puerto Rico, restoring health services, addressing chronic disease, training health workers in preparedness and mental health and psychosocial services and working to meet needs in health facilities and communities struggling to re-establish basic services.
Puerto Rico Aid
Americares Hurricane Maria recovery program in Puerto Rico is building the capacity of health workers and strengthening health facilities to meet the changing needs of patients and communities. Our work focuses on disaster preparedness, mental health and psychosocial services and decentralization of health services to reach the most excluded.
Prepared for future disasters: With the support of the American Red Cross, Americares has trained more than 1,200 health workers and staff across Puerto Rico in disaster preparedness. Health care providers from public health facilities, Federally Qualified Health Centers, social service agencies and more have taken part.
Americares trainings provide a practical approach to preparedness. We work with participants to build capability in resilience and resource management—and to develop communication and coordination skills to maintain health services and save lives during and after disasters.
Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Puerto Rico
To increase access to mental health services and address the psychosocial needs of Puerto Rico’s health workforce, Americares provided training for more than 7,200 health care workers, social service providers and first responders in the two years after Hurricane Maria struck the island. Health care workers, social service providers and first responders received training in Psychological First Aid and Resilience and Coping for the Healthcare Community.
Americares Psychological First Aid and Resilience and Coping for the Health Care Community workshops address post-disaster symptoms common among health care workers, including job burnout, compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress and vicarious traumatization. Trainees can also better address health care needs among patients, especially the elderly, who can be especially vulnerable.
Rebuilding health centers: Two years after Hurricane Maria, Americares has rebuilt 11 primary health facilities serving a population of 65,000 people—and provided key building upgrades to Dominica’s Central Medical Stores. Now, we’re exploring ways to support Central Medical Stores even further—including installing solar panels; energy-efficient lighting, timers and switches; and temperature monitoring for medicine cold storage.
Growing the supply chain: Americares is also helping the Ministry of Health organize and inventory donated medicine and medical supplies. Two years after the storm, Americares has installed warehousing equipment and redesigned Central Medical Stores’ floorplans to ensure medicine moves in and out swiftly and accurate records are kept. Americares plans to continue working alongside the Ministry of Health to strengthen the country’s medical supply chain.
In the weeks after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of Puerto Rico, Americares assessment teams visited hospitals and clinics across the island, including the islands of Vieques and Culebra. Americares emergency medical teams provided 1,700 patient consultations during two months in the field, including more than 200 house calls for patients unable to travel to health facilities and 260 mental health consults. Americares also made deliveries of critical medicine and relief items to 47 partners, including 18 hospitals and clinics. Americares provided a temporary structure to allow an inoperable health facility to continue its services and supported transportation for dialysis patients from Vieques.
Just days after Hurricane Maria struck Dominica, Americares staff arrived with medicine and supplies for the island’s damaged hospital. More shipments of supplies quickly followed. Americares encountered widespread damage to health infrastructure in several Dominica parishes.
“Hurricane Maria’s destruction was unprecedented. Impacted communities are on their way to recovery, but more work remains. Thousands of survivors are still reeling from the psychological and economic impact of the storm.”
Emergency Preparedness Program
With the support of the American Red Cross, Americares is conducting emergency preparedness bootcamps across Puerto Rico for an estimated 900 health care providers from organizations across the island including free and charitable clinics (FCCs), Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), health facilities within the public sector, and social service agencies. The goal of this program is to enhance health center and health system resiliency across Puerto Rico and improve the post-disaster health outcomes of disaster survivors, providers, and communities.
Our Partners for Hurricane Response in Puerto Rico and Dominica
Our U.S. Programs partner with an extensive safety net clinic network in all 50 states and Puerto Rico that allows us to build a rapid response to a disaster and build long-term programs in support of health system restoration. In addition, we reach out to and identify new partners during a disaster to meet immediate community needs and establish sustainable relationships for strengthening health services.
In 2018 Other Partners Stepped Up and Out to Help
As Puerto Rico recovers from a terrible disaster, the partners who have offered help brought so much to the recovery effort including their physical presence as was the case last year when members of the NY Giants organization visited our work and joined in the effort to restore health and hope.