Hurricanes in the Caribbean
International Medical Corps Responding in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Caribbean
International Medical Corps is responding in Puerto Rico, Florida, and across the Caribbean to ensure families are safe and have the resources they need to recover in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Hurricane Maria devastated many islands still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Irma and exacerbated the crisis by wreaking havoc on islands such as Puerto Rico that had been spared Irma’s destruction.
Responding to Hurricanes Irma and Maria
International Medical Corps’ disaster response experts are on the ground in Puerto Rico, and across the Caribbean, coordinating with response agencies and local organizations in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Medical supplies are being distributed, while further relief items are being prepared for shipment. We currently have teams working in Puerto Rico and Dominica and are working to support other hard-hit islands from a base in Barbuda. We are also supporting recovery efforts in Florida.
International Medical Corps is on the ground in Puerto Rico, where we are partnering with the La Asociación de Salud Primaria de Puerto Rico (ASPPR), a network of nearly 70 health clinics focused on providing care to low-income families across the island. Power outages continue to make it difficult to operate health facilities, with many clinics resorting to limiting the hours they are open or providing care in smaller spaces that can be powered by a generator. Maintaining a cold chain for many urgently needed medications, especially those for chronic care, has been a challenge.
International Medical Corps is providing logistical support to help urban and rural clinics across the island get back to caring for patients. This includes providing seven generators to clinics and San Juan-area hospitals that would otherwise have severely limited or no operating capacity. In addition, we have provided water bladders with a 500-gallon storage capacity to health facilities help increase access to potable water at hard-hit facilities. We are also working with a partner organization to restore internet and communications capabilities for ASPPR and distributing solar lights to clinics. Our team is also looking at how we can support the supply of medications across the island, especially those that require cold storage and transport.
– Señor Dionisio Medina, Project Manager, Corporacion de Servicios Medicos (CSM) – Hatillo
As immediate relief efforts begin to shift into recovery, International Medical Corps will support the longer-term needs of health facilities with infrastructure repairs and other assistance. We will be working with an anticipated 20 clinics to rebuild and rehabilitate facility infrastructure, and provide urgently needed grants and resources, helping clinics address their most urgent and pertinent needs. This includes supporting staff, who are overworked and facing the same challenges as the general population – lack of access to electricity and potable water. In addition, we are distributing hygiene kits, wound care kits, solar lights and other supplies that can help families stay healthy in the aftermath of crises.
In Dominica, International Medical Corps has deployed medical teams to support hospitals and clinics that continue to see patients despite some of the island’s medical facilities remaining non-operational. Our three volunteer medical teams, comprised of doctors and nurses, have been deployed to some of the hardest hit areas of the island in St. John and St. Andrew’s parish—home to a combined 18,000 people and some of the island’s most heavily populated areas. The teams are supporting hospitals and community health clinics, relieving overworked staff, and making home visits to vulnerable households, including the elderly and single-headed households.
With transportation across Dominica and other Caribbean islands severely limited in the immediate aftermath of the storms, International Medical Corps provided an air bridge with regular flights into Dominica, Antigua, and the British Virgin Islands to transport medical volunteers, first responders, patients, and government officials to the most devastated regions. In addition, these flights were able to transport urgently-needed medical supplies and equipment. The air bridge, which ran from September 29 to October 31, transported 328 people, including Ministry of Health officials, International Medical Corps staff, medical volunteer teams, patients, and other first responders as well as 71,000 pounds of cargo that included medical equipment, specimen samples, and lifesaving relief.
Our pharmacists are working with the Ministry of Health and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to help restore the pharmaceutical supply chain in Dominica. This includes providing critical medicines and medical supplies—known as an International Emergency Health Kit—that we delivered to Dominica to help provide care for up to 10,000 people for three months. These medicines and supplies were distributed to Salibya Health Center, Princess Margaret Hospital, and Newtown health facility.
International Medical Corps, in collaboration with Pharmacists Without Borders/Pharmaciens Sans Frontières, is also supporting the Central Medical Store (CMS) of Dominica’s Ministry of Health. Rotating teams of two volunteer pharmacists are assisting the CMS to sort, organize, and inventory medicines and supplies. They have also updated stock records, inventory levels, and established records of medical demand based on consumption. In the coming week, the teams will facilitate pharmaceutical distribution from the CMS to hospitals and clinics, providing supply chain support that will ensure local facilities and communities have access to the care and supplies they need.
In addition, International Medical Corps will provide water, sanitation and hygiene services including the rehabilitation of water systems in St. Johns and St. Andrews. We are providing some 70,000 liters of clean water per day for residents, distributing hygiene kits and water storage containers to families, and training community leaders on water testing to help ensure that families and communities are using clean water. International Medical Corps is also expanding its services to include mental health and psychosocial support, including psychological first aid training for local first responders.
– Dr. Melinda Brecknell, a volunteer with International Medical Corps in Dominica
Our team in northern Haiti continues to operate mobile medical units that can respond to flare-ups of cholera—a risk that could increase as a result of Irma’s heavy rainfall as it passed the island. The team is looking at ways they can plus up support to help prevent a spike in cholera cases, and working to identify additional relief that might be needed in the wake of Irma.
Antigua, Haiti and Across the Caribbean
On other Caribbean islands, we are working to help get health systems back up and running. In addition to providing daily flights from Dominica in the immediate aftermath of the storms, we also funded charters to the British Virgin Islands and Antigua to facilitate the movement of humanitarian workers and supplies. We have also mobilized hygiene kits for hard-hit communities across the Caribbean, including 2,000 kits distributed to displaced Barbudans and Dominicans now in Antigua. We are also partnering with the University of the West Indies to support the mental health and psychosocial needs of storm survivors.
At the same time, our team in northern Haiti continues to operate mobile medical units that can respond to flare-ups of cholera—a risk that could increase as a result of heavy rainfall. The team is looking at ways they can plus up support to help prevent a spike in cholera cases and working to identify additional relief that might be needed.
International Medical Corps is also working with a local network of 30 clinics in Florida that reach 80,000 underserved men, women, and children in and around Fort Myers. With many of the clinic staff displaced from their homes, International Medical Corps is providing provide sanitation facilities to help them return to work. We are also working to restore power and the network’s clinic in Bonita Springs, which serves some 30,000 people. In addition, we are also partnering with a clinic network in Miami-Dade County, helping to provide low or no-cost medication for vulnerable families, ensuring that they continue to receive care for chronic diseases like diabetes, and easing their financial burden as they recover and rebuild in the wake of the storms.
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