Puerto Rico never set up an information network to gather data on COVID-19

For almost a decade, the government of Puerto Rico wasted the opportunity to put together an information network that would have provided real-time data to save lives during a pandemic, such as the one caused by COVID-19. When Secretary Lorenzo González left the position as head of the Department of Health (DH) in 2013, that project was in a very early stage. Upon returning to steer the DH in 2020, the agency was not only mired in corruption scandals and mismanagement of the response to the pandemic, but the Puerto Rico Health Information Network (PRHIN) was not operating. PRHIN would have allowed the electronic exchange of medical records among all health care providers, to better care for patients, and send real-time alerts to the DH to monitor any public health threat. The information network system, which has cost more than $ 7.7 million in federal funds, should have been ready six years ago.

Puerto Rico nunca implantó una red de información para tener los datos correctos sobre la COVID-19

Durante casi una década, el Gobierno de Puerto Rico echó a perder la oportunidad de preparar una red de información que hubiera permitido tener datos en tiempo real para salvar vidas durante una pandemia, como la causada por la COVID-19. Cuando el secretario Lorenzo González dejó en 2013 el puesto de jefe del Departamento de Salud (DS), ese proyecto estaba en desarrollo. Al regresar en 2020 a dirigir la agencia, no sólo se encontraba sumida en escándalos de corrupción y malos manejos de la respuesta ante la pandemia, sino que la Corporación de Intercambio Electrónico de Información de Salud de Puerto Rico (PRHIN, por sus siglas en inglés) no funcionaba. El PRHIN hubiera permitido compartir los récords médicos de los pacientes entre todos los proveedores de servicios médicos, para darles un mejor tratamiento, y enviar una alerta en tiempo real al DS para hacer una vigilancia de cualquier amenaza a la salud pública. El sistema, que ha costado más de $7.7 millones de fondos federales, debió estar listo hace seis años.

Federal government faces COVID-19 crisis blindly, lacking a risk monitoring system that would include pandemics

President Donald Trump’s administration is steering the response to the coronavirus like a pilot who flies blindfolded. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for 12 years has failed to comply with its obligation to operate a centralized digital platform to share information, as close as possible to real time, about threats to public health such as pandemics. Now it lacks that tool to avoid deaths related to COVID-19. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has filed three reports, two during the Trump term and one during former President Barack Obama’s tenure, noting that HHS has failed in its legal obligation to design the enhanced situational awareness network. Furthermore, the GAO sent a letter on March 28, 2019 to the highest federal health authority in the US, HHS Secretary Alex Azar II, outlining more than 42 critical actions that the agency has not complied with, including the implementation of this tool.

El Gobierno federal enfrenta a ciegas el coronavirus tras incumplir con un sistema de monitoreo de riesgos como pandemias

La administración del presidente Donald Trump dirige la respuesta al coronavirus como un piloto que vuela con los ojos vendados. El Departamento de Salud y Servicios Sociales de los Estados Unidos (HHS) inclumple desde hace doce años con su obligación de poner a funcionar una plataforma digital centralizada para compartir información, lo más cercana al tiempo real, sobre las amenazas a la salud pública, como las pandemias. Y ahora carece de esa herramienta para evitar muertes por el COVID-19. La Oficina de Responsabilidad del Gobierno de EE UU (GAO) ha preparado tres informes, dos durante la presidencia de Trump y uno durante la administración del expresidente Barack Obama, en los que señala que HHS ha fallado en su obligación legal de crear esa red de estado de situación de la salud pública. Además, la GAO envió una carta el 28 de marzo de 2019 a la máxima autoridad de salud federal, Alex Azar II, secretario de HHS.

Monsanto Sued in Puerto Rico for Alleged ‘Intentional and Negligent’ Harm to an Ex-employee’s Health

After suffering a severe allergy and respiratory problems while working in Puerto Rico with experimental agrochemicals for the multinational seed producer Monsanto, agronomist Iris Pellot sued the company for allegedly causing her “intentional and negligent” harm, as well as violating her constitutional rights. The first day in court was on Friday, Jan. 24. Sitting on one of the benches in room 601 at the Aguadilla Superior Court, Pellot hugged two of her children while she cried. She was telling them she was nervous because of the hearing that was about to start before Judge Miguel Trabal-Cuevas.