Last September, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Residents of some of the hardest hit rural areas found themselves stranded, their homes, businesses, schools and health clinics damaged –– some beyond repair. It’s been four months after Hurricane Maria hit the island and nearly 40 percent of the island’s electricity customers remain without power. Across the island, school enrollment has shrunk by some 22,350 students since the storm hit, according to Puerto Rico’s Department of Education. That means about 1 in 13 kids are gone, and it’s unclear whether they’ll ever be back.
“Nurses go to where patients are.” Nancy Rudner, DrPH, APRN responded when I asked her why she went on her second deployment to Puerto Rico this month. Dr. Rudner joined an all-female inter-professional health team for two weeks. She was the only team member who spoke fluent Spanish so took on the additional role of interpreter. The settings where she saw patients varied –– sometimes in a local bar or on a street curb.
She said that health services are improving. She met those who have lived with no power for four months. Many have limited access to a clean water supply. Crops have been ruined so there are no fresh fruits or vegetables to eat. She wants people to know that in spite of these tremendous hardships the people of Puerto Rico are rebuilding and getting things done.
Puerto Rico Se Levanta! (Puerto Rico Rises!)