Skilled Nursing Bulletins: Devastation in Puerto Rico

Just weeks after providers in Texas and Florida dealt with the devastating effects of hurricanes, skilled nursing and other health care operators still face a dire situation on the island of Puerto Rico a week after Hurricane Maria made landfall.

Here’s the latest:

  • Communication with the U.S. territory remains difficult, but a few pieces of news have been trickling out — including the story of a nursing home in the town of Caguas, which was without power and suffered a roof collapse during the storm. After multiple attempts, Jezebel was able to speak with the operator, who described a horrific scene: a failed generator, damaged cooking equipment, and no sign of help on the way. “No one has come to help,” the manager said through an interpreter. “Nothing. Not even to fix the kitchen, which is what we need.”
  • Some have predicted that the toll in Puerto Rico will be much higher than the 11 nursing home deaths in Hollywood, Fla. after the wake of Hurricane Irma. The operator of a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based relief organization told the Palm Beach Post: “I see the potential for the nursing-home deaths that happened during Irma to exponentially happen in Puerto Rico. There are extremely urgent unmet needs.”
  • One 92-year-old woman rescued by the group, the Eagles Wings Foundation, had been trapped on the sixth floor of a nursing home, drinking toilet water to survive.
  • San Juan mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said she toured retirement communities “where residents were shouting for help,” according to NBC News. “They have been left alone, they cannot walk, the elevator is not working,” Cruz said.
  • Rep. Luis Vega Ramos, meanwhile, said he saw a remote senior center with 90 bedridden residents in desperate need of diesel to keep the power on.

Written by Alex Spanko


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