Data Mismatch Prevents Knowing If There are Enough Ventilators and Isolation Beds for COVID-19 Patients

The ventilators available in Puerto Rico, which are not exclusively for COVID-19 patients, would not be sufficient to care for the 15,800 to 20,250 critically ill patients who could   require their use to save their lives, according to projections by the COVID-19 Task Force about people who may   contract the virus for as long as the epidemic lasts on the island, and data from the World Health Organization (WHO). Between public and private hospitals, there are only 880 ventilators available in Puerto Rico, and as the spread of the novel disease continues, worldwide demand for this equipment is also on the rise. The COVID-19 Task Force projected that between 316,000 to 405,000 people could become ill with COVID-19. Puerto Rico has a population of 3.7 million. This data, presented last Tuesday, comes   from tests done   locally   and based on the experience in other countries such as China and Italy .

Millions of Health Department Funds Channeled to Contractors Linked to ex Governor Campaign Strategists

The wave of corruption that characterized the Ricardo Rosselló-Nevares administration had among its enablers the now outgoing Secretary of Health, Rafael Rodríguez-Mercado, an investigation by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) reveals. Amid the emergency and deaths related to Hurricane María, a decisive meeting took place at the Government of Puerto Rico’s Emergency Operations Center (COE, in Spanish). Elías Sánchez, lobbyist and former governor Rosselló’s ex-campaign director was present. The meeting, held Oct. 2, 2017, two weeks after the storm, was the first sweeping encounter among Government of Puerto Rico cabinet secretaries and federal government response officials.

The Program to Deal with Housing Needs in Puerto Rico after Hurricane María Lingers in a Limbo

The Governor assures that the R3 program’s priority is to rebuild and repair homes, but the initiative poses a threat of displacement by hindering construction in flood-prone zones, and by not offering as an option reducing risks in the communities, because the federal funding for it hasn’t arrived. Two and a half years after the disaster, the main housing recovery program has not relocated anyone. María Pérez-Ramos never imagined that the land ceded by the former mayor of Canovanas, José “Chemo” Soto, in the San Isidro community 19 years ago, was flood-prone. Had she known, she would not have accepted it, she said. Now, all she wants is to move to a safe place where she doesn’t have to be afraid when hurricane season arrives in the summer.

En el limbo programa que atendería las viviendas afectadas por el huracán María en Puerto Rico

La Gobernadora asegura que la prioridad del programa R3 es la reconstrucción y la reparación de viviendas, pero este representa una amenaza de desplazamientos al impedir la construcción en zonas inundables y no ofrecer como opción reducir los riesgos en las comunidades, porque los fondos federales para ello no han llegado. Dos años y medio después del desastre, el principal programa de recuperación de viviendas no ha reubicado a nadie.

Government dismisses need to plan a response to massive trauma cases

Despite how crucial it is to immediately respond to traumas after an earthquake, Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez-Mercado said there is no formal plan or instructions, nor are they needed, for a massive response to trauma because doctors, as part of their training, know what to do in case of emergencies, aside from the fact that each hospital has its own strategy for that. Experts interviewed by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) differ from Rodríguez-Mercado. And his deputy in charge of the Río Piedras Medical Center, the executive director of the Health Services Administration (ASEM, in Spanish), Jorge Matta-González, disagreed with him. 

“All doctors are trained on what to do in times of emergency, hurricanes, mass casualties, all these problems. In an emergency such as an earthquake, the most commonly seen cases are orthopedics and neurosurgery,” said the Secretary in an interview with Radio Isla. His comments came after the CPI revealed that he had not shared a plan or instructions with his medical trauma team to handle possible massive number of cases after a major catastrophe following the earthquakes that have been rattling Puerto Rico for the past several weeks. 

The head of the Health Department has not not reach out to Trauma Center Director Pablo Rodríguez-Ortiz, who said he was unaware of this administration’s strategy to attend to an unexpectedly high volume of patients or the resources available for that. Rodríguez-Mercado also failed to inform Rodríguez-Ortiz about the current written plan, namely the Public Health and Medical Services Emergency Management Operational Plan.