Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm in September 2017, leaving a visible impact on infrastructure, power and water supplies, and the environment. In cases of a natural disaster, the physical effects to the area are tremendously damaging. What is often less visible is the recovery of a population from the emotional and health trauma.
To combat these effects in Puerto Rico, Americares has worked to provide emergency preparedness training, mental health support, and solar energy solutions for survivors, health care providers, and the community at large. As a health-focused relief and development organization, Americares specializes in areas facing poverty challenges, natural disasters, or sometimes both, as is the case with Puerto Rico.
“The training from Americares is so valuable because we meet with people every month — we gather the community, patients, families and health care workers — and with the information we have learned, we are able to be a support network for our community,” says Ahniella Ayala, Social Worker and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Centro Diamantino Senior Center in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
Training Programs and Support
With the support of Random Acts, Americares’ programs have resulted in significant impacts across the island with particular success at MedCentro Peñuelas and Migrant Health Center in Yauco (together serving over 10,000 patients annually who are often low-income and underinsured).
In the face of natural disaster, emergency preparedness is critical to ensuring that health systems are resilient and well-rehearsed at handling sudden catastrophes. Overall, Americares’ Preparedness Program has trained 1,040 health care workers to reduce disaster risk and mitigate long-term health consequences in the aftermath of a disaster.
Americares also proposed an alternative energy resources plan for Puerto Rico’s health care facilities. Both MedCentro Peñuelas and Migrant Health Center now have solar energy solutions, with Migrant Health Center capable of full operation relying only on solar power. Reliable power supplies prevent the loss of health care services such as refrigerated medicines and life support systems during potential short-term or long-term power outages due to the effects of a natural disaster.
Most importantly, Puerto Rico is home to many individuals — some of whom may be experiencing emotional or mental health trauma due to the numerous negative effects of a natural disaster such as the loss of homes, feelings of safety, or loved ones. That’s why Americares has trained 7,253 health care staff and emergency responders across Puerto Rico through its psychoeducational workshop Resilience and Coping for the Healthcare Community or Psychological First Aid.
By lending your support, you have helped the people of Puerto Rico to recover, rebuild, and revitalize their communities.