Puerto Rico hospitals struggling after Hurricane Maria

Some patients in Puerto Rico are having to evacuate to the continental United States for treatment as the island deals with significant damage caused by Hurricane Maria.

As Reuters reported, the challenges faced by Puerto Rico as a whole—the electrical grid is down and there are hours-long lines for gasoline to fuel generators—are heavily impacting hospitals. Some have resorted to protecting fuel shipments to facilities with armed guards to deter potential looters. With some hospitals running low on supplies and many backup generators failing, options for patients are dwindling.

“Another hospital wants to transfer two critical patients here because they don’t have electricity,” said Ivan Gonzalez Cancel, MD, a cardiovascular surgeon and director of the heart transplant program at Centro Cardiovascular. “We can’t take them. We have the same problem.”

Cancel was approached by family members of a patient who has been waiting for a triple-bypass surgery. His advice: Get him off the island.

“Get him on a plane. You can be in Miami in two and a half hours,” he said.

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