Caring for the Ill and Saving Lives in Puerto Rico
At the bottom of the box was the size four tracheostomy that the child needed to save his life. I grabbed it and ran up the stairs hoping we weren't too late.
Sheila Grisard, a long-time volunteer nurse for Project HOPE was busy organizing donated supplies at the University Pediatric Hospital on Sunday. Working with two other HOPE volunteer nurses, and some volunteer students at the hospital, the group had nearly completed unpacking and organizing the donations when a pediatric doctor frantically ran into the supply room, requesting a size four tracheostomy for an infant who needed it immediately.
“Unfortunately we had not come across any tracheostomies in all our unpacking,” Sheila said. The pediatrician immediately returned to the infant, but Sheila and the team were determined to find a tracheostomy to save the infant. I reached over and pulled several boxes of rubber gloves off the shelves and was so excited to find a box of tracheostomies. I called for two students to help me find the size and the rest of this story is a miracle,” she continued.
“At the bottom of the box was the size four tracheostomy that the doctor needed to save the child’s life. I grabbed it and ran up the stairs hoping we weren’t too late.”
“I can’t tell you how excited everyone was to see that one size four tracheostomy in that entire room of donated supplies! What an amazing miracle and gift.”
Three weeks after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, the situation on the island remains dire – particularly for those in need of health care.
Federal officials have reported that less than half of the island’s medical work force has returned to work since the hurricane as many are struggling to recover themselves.
Those that were sick before are struggling to get the care and medications they need.
Project HOPE volunteers continue to fill the gap, whether finding the right tool just in time to save a young life, or bringing care and medicines to people living in hard-to-reach areas of the island that are still in critical need.
Thanks to your support, medical volunteers are providing support to local health facilities as well as establishing and staffing mobile medical clinics in high-need communities, visiting local nursing homes and conducting home visits to reach patients unable to make it to the clinics.
In the past few weeks:
- Volunteers have treated more than 320 patients in the hard-hit town of Loiza, in addition to refilling prescriptions and medication needs for community members.
- Project HOPE, working with partners on the ground, is distributing medicines and relief to hard-to-reach areas of the island that are still in high need of supplies.
- Through the support of two generous donors, Project HOPE is coordinating the delivery of 2,600 water purification kits to a local partner. Each kit can purify up to 3,000 liters of water, which is enough for a family of four up to one year. This donation could provide clean water to more than 10,000 people for a year.
- Project HOPE has implemented a Special Flights Initiative supporting the direct transport of HOPE medical volunteers, identified medicines and supplies from the U.S. to Puerto Rico via private aircrafts.