The government of Puerto Rico and the Department of Health suffered a judicial defeat in their attempt to stop the lawsuit for damages filed by Jaideliz Moreno Ventura’s family after the 13-year-old teenager’s death on the island municipality of Vieques, due to lack of medical services.
Incomplete data on deaths from the last two years that the Demographic Registry delivered to the Center for Investigative Journalism prompted this organization to again sue Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López and the registry´s Director Wanda Llovet Díaz.
A small tech company called SupportPR, owned by a donor and collaborator of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, has controlled and set the hiring guidelines for tech jobs at the Department of Health since the pandemic that has exceeded $144 million.
The day before Hurricane Fiona made landfall, Petra Rodríguez tried to turn on the power generator she had just bought, but it arrived damaged. She needed electricity to power the electric pump with which she feeds her 93-year-old mother, who is bedridden, and to operate the adjustable bed and inflatable mattress, which keep her from getting ulcers. Rodríguez (a fictitious name to protect her identity) recalled that she had received days before an announcement about a registry of people with special needs from the Municipality of San Juan in her mailbox. The woman registered her mother in the program that proactively offered her shelter and medical staff, before the disaster. On Sunday, September 18, when Hurricane Fiona caused a general blackout in Puerto Rico, the shelter she went to immediately turned on the power plant and her mother was able to operate her medical equipment.
The Department of Health, responsible for inspecting and approving the emergency evacuation plans of all the island’s hospitals, only keeps them for the three hospitals that it runs. The agency’s Deputy Secretary’s Office for the Regulation and Accreditation of Health Facilities (SARAFS, in Spanish) does not keep a copy of the evacuation plans that it is supposed to have previously evaluated, and that could mean the difference between life and death for patients and employees. The information surfaced as part of a lawsuit in which the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) asked the DH for several documents and protocols related to emergency events. “As part of the inspections, SARAFS personnel check that said plans comply with all the established requirements. However, a physical copy, on paper, digital or in any other way stored in an electronic device(s) of these plans is not delivered to SARAFS personnel, nor is it received by said personnel, nor is it retained in the record of the facilities that work in the SARAFS, so the Department of Health does not have them,” according to the certification that the DH submitted to the San Juan Superior Court as part of the case.