IMPACT: My team and I have delivered a total of 76,500 lbs. of relief aid to the island, and evacuated a total of 296 patients. Our last evacuation mission was executed mid-December. Since then, we have continued our humanitarian work in the following ways: (1) helping evacuees find the resources they need in the mainland, such as housing, jobs, and benefits (2) in the face of FEMA assistance deadlines, coordinating and financing the transport for those who are ready back home to Puerto Rico, and (3) preparing for the upcoming hurricane season by designing emergency preparedness boxes we plan to distribute by the early summer. BACKGROUND: My name is Rosana Guernica. I am a junior at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA). On September 20th, my home, Puerto Rico, was hit by Hurricane Maria, a category 5 hurricane which devastated my island and its people. The first few weeks after Maria hit, we were all desperate to help Puerto Rico but didn’t seem to know how. No one person could solve the islands problems. No government was able to keep Hurricane Maria’s victims from dying. I would receive messages from friends, family, and acquaintances on the ground who were without basic necessities such as drinkable water. I personally know of people who passed away those first few weeks due to dehydration, infection, and an inability to receive the proper and immediate medical attention they needed such as their dialysis treatment. Meanwhile I saw footage of supplies held up in the ports of San Juan, a few miles away from those who needed them. There is money being raised that won’t keep people form dying. Supplies being collected that are being held in inventory through US and Puerto Rican ports. By the time normal distribution channels open, it will be too late for the people who needed it the most. It is time to come together and take action. It is time to help the most vulnerable before it is too late. I have spent the past month organizing humanitarian missions to Puerto Rico. Through crowdfunding I am able to afford private charters to take myself and much needed aid down to the island, deliver it directly into the hands of doctors and community leaders, and evacuate patients on the return flight, reuniting them with their families in Florida, who ensure that they receive the proper medical attention they require. FIRST MISSION (OCTOBER 4th:) Dr. Alejandro Rodriguez, from Allegheny Health Network, and I completed our first mission to the island. We delivered 1,000 lbs. of medical supplies donated by Doctoras Boricuas to the Federico Trilla hospital in Carolina and the Pediatric Hospital of San Juan. We evacuated 6 passengers, cancer and dialysis patients in need of immediate medical attention as well as their respective caretakers (under campaign updates you will find letters from the family members of the evacuees). All passengers were immediately hospitalized or seen by a physician. For one of the passengers however, help and treatment did not come soon enough. She passed away a few weeks after arriving in Florida. I will forever keep her and her family in my heart. I am grateful that we were at least able to make sure she was comfortable and was able to see her children before she passed. SECOND MISSION (OCTOBER 14th): I was able to complete our second mission to Puerto Rico, along with Dr. Yasdet Maldonado, from Allegheny Health Network, and four Puerto Rican students and staff members at Carnegie Mellon University. completed our second mission to the island. We delivered 2,500 lbs of supplies: medicine donated by Highmark Health for the Municipal Hospital of San Juan, medicine and supplies for the Pediatric Oncology Unit, and general relief aid for the surrounding areas of San Juan. We evacuated 22 patients, who had illnesses and conditions across the board: diabetes, chronic asthma, leukemia, osteoporosis, alzheimer's, dementia, and various heart conditions. THIRD MISSION (OCTOBER 28th): My team and I were joined by even more volunteers and physicians in order to successfully complete our third humanitarian mission, which effectively transported 15,000 lbs of supplies and transported 56 patients and evacuees. Dr. Miguel Busqueto, a Pittsburgh based ophthalmologist, identified several patients in need of immediate surgery on the island, after we helped get them to Fort Lauderdale, Dr. Busqueto covered their room and board and additional flights, in addition to preforming the surgeries pro bono. We identified other patients in need of proper and immediate medical attention through a network of doctors on the island as well as the efforts of the Stefano Foundation. Below is a breakdown of the donations made and where the supplies were delivered to: - Big Brothers Foundation (BBF), based in Pittsburgh, PA, donated medical supplies that were desperately needed in the municipalities of Cabo Rojo and San German. A trusted contact from Connect Relief, Maria E. Soto, personally delivered the supplies directly to Dr Linette Otero, who runs a free clinic at the Cabo Rojo Emergency Center, and to the Mayor of San German, and Dr. Yuseff Galib, who have both organized mobile medical services throughout the municipality in addition to supplying local health centers. - Doctoras Boricuas, spearheaded by Dr. Dalian Caraballo, donated over 3,000 lbs of medicine and medical supplies. Paolo Sorbello and his team picked up the needed aid and delivered it to the Hospital San Lucas in Ponce. - Doctors4PuertoRico collected and donated over 3,000 lbs of medicine and medical supplies which were delivered to Centro de Cancer de La Mujer (Ponce), Doctors Cancer Center (Manati), and to Dr. David de Angel. - The Stefano Foundation donated 1,000 lbs of food, water, bedding, and medicine, which was personally delivered by the head of the foundation, Zorimar Betancourt. FOURTH MISSION (11/18): My team and I partnered with Global Links - a Pittsburgh based medical relief organization - to deliver medical supplies and medicine to the University of Puerto Rico’s Comprehensive Cancer Center and to Renace Condado’s medical clinics in Vieques, Barranquitas, Orocovis, and Ciales. On the return flight, we successfully evacuated over 120 patients. All who were received by family members and seen by physicians within the next few days.
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