Puerto Rico hospitals continue to struggle in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Reporting that only nine of 61 hospitals in Puerto Rico have electric power, a hospital billing company representative told Talk-Ten-Tuesdays listeners this past Tuesday that the lack of electricity is one of the biggest problems residents of the U.S. territory face following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, which ravaged the island nearly two weeks ago.
“Can you imagine being in a hospital with no power and no communication systems?” asked Janet Villanueva during the broadcast. “That’s a big problem that we have, so they (hospitals) are running on diesel (fuel).”
After making landfall as a Category 5 storm, with sustained winds estimated at up to 155 miles per hour, Hurricane Maria destroyed the island’s energy grid, leaving millions of people without power. Media reports indicate that 95 percent of the island’s cell phone sites are out of service.
“So, by not having power, we are running on diesel, and we are running low. And the problem we have is trying to deliver that diesel because of blocked roads with the debris after the hurricane,” Villanueva explained. “So we have a very serious situation, because soon we will have a public health crisis also, because food and water supplies are very limited.”
Villanueva said hospitals are packed with lots of people and that there are no beds available. According to a few hospital administrators with whom she spoke, the problem is becoming increasingly dire with each passing day.
Inmediata, the company where Villanueva works, is a healthcare billing and reimbursement company operating in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She said her company established a command center in San Juan where hospital billing personnel can come and perform their billing.
“We don’t have power ourselves and we are running on diesel and only running half of our building,” she said. “Fortunately, we have a military communications system.”
Villanueva spoke on Tuesday, the day President Donald Trump visited the island. She was not aware of the President nor his traveling group at the time of the broadcast.
“As you can imagine, we are trying to do our best with the little resources we have,” she said. “Hopefully, in the next few weeks, we can accomplish some of the challenges we have to save more lives and to help people – at least to get the minimum necessary that any human being needs to live, which is medical attention, medicine and water.”