Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s Nonprofit Health Centers, Community Organizations Receive $12.3 Million Philanthropic Boost

Grants from Direct Relief will support solar power and battery storage installations, mobile health units, and emergency communications technology

Direct Relief CEO Thomas Tighe speaking at a meeting of Puerto Rico health and community leaders that was held on Aug. 3, 2018.
Direct Relief CEO Thomas Tighe speaking at a meeting of Puerto Rico health and community leaders that was held on Aug. 3, 2018.

Direct Relief today announced a series of new financial commitments totaling $12.3 million to help Puerto Rico healthcare organizations address ongoing health needs following Hurricane Maria and to bolster their ability to weather future storms.

The announcement was made at a Direct Relief-convened meeting of Puerto Rico health and community leaders about strategies to restore and strengthen Puerto Rico’s healthcare system. The meeting was held with the support of AbbVie, which has committed $100 million to strengthen access to health care and housing in post-Maria Puerto Rico.

The meeting was kicked off by Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Rafael Rodriguez Mercado, and included more than 100 leaders of Puerto Rico’s nonprofit community health centers and hospitals as well as other community leaders who advised on how philanthropy can best restore and strengthen health services throughout the territory.

Speakers included:

  • Dr. Satchit Balsari, Harvard Professor and co-author of the widely reported study, “Mortality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria”
  • Jay Fonseca, journalist, political analyst, and founder and board member of Por Los Nuestros
  • Dr. Antonia Novello, former U.S. Surgeon General
  • Dr. Byron Scott, Medical Director, IBM Watson Health and Direct Relief board member
  • Malvise Scott, Senior Vice President, National Association of Community Health Centers
  • Thomas Tighe, president and CEO, Direct Relief
  • Yulun Wang, founder of telehealth company InTouch Health

The $12.3 million in Direct Relief’s new financial commitments will support solar power and battery storage installations, mobile health units, medical equipment, emergency communications technology, and emergency preparedness and response training.

Direct Relief today also reported its activities to date for its Puerto Rican response. Since Hurricane Maria made landfall, Direct Relief has supported 67 local community health centers and clinics, hospitals, and other health providers with 403 emergency shipments of requested medication and supplies.

The shipments contained more than 358 tons (761,067 lbs) of medical essentials totaling more than $67.8 million (wholesale) and 9.1 million defined daily doses. In addition to providing medical material assistance to community-based groups in Puerto Rico, Direct Relief has made financial grants to invest in a range of initiatives to bolster health services and local infrastructure.

Funding has been provided to projects including an island-wide vaccination campaign, the installation of 791 kilowatts of solar energy and nearly 2 megawatts of battery backup at 14 health centers and non-PRASA communities, a telemedicine initiative to extend health services to rural areas, and equipping Puerto Rico’s medical reserve corps, among others.

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