New York Post
Surgery crisis in reeling PR
Isle’s (race) horsepower
Two weeks after Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico, medical officials say the health-care system on the devastated island “is on life support” — with only one cardiothoracic surgeon still performing operations.
Dr. Orlando Lopez de Victoria of Auxilio Mutuo Hospital in San Juan said that before Maria, there were 10 heart surgeons to serve the island population of 3.4 million.
Some surgeons, he said, have left while others can’t operate because of poor conditions at storm-damaged hospitals and clinics.
“I decided to stay because I love my country, my family and my patients,” he told USA Today, which reported on the deteriorating conditions two days after President Trump paid a visit to the US commonwealth.
On Monday, Lopez de Victoria operated on a patient whose transfer to the hospital had been delayed due to fuel shortages, the paper reported.
The delay left the patient severely weakened, and she did not survive the procedure.
“We have hospitals that are working, but eventually, we are going to have to transfer patients,” said Carlos Méndez, an administrator at Auxilio Mutuo, considered one of the island’s top medical facilities.
USA Today said patients are dying because of complications caused by conditions on the island, where most residents remain without power and many still have no running water.
Damaged roadways and the lack of transportation also make it more difficult to move patients around or get them to facilities for treatment.
With communications still down or at best spotty in many areas, there is a lack of communication and coordination among medical facilities.
Doctors don’t want to discharge sick or injured patients after surgery or treatment because of unsanitary conditions at the homes to which they return.
Meanwhile, health officials on the island Wednesday inspected the US Navy hospital ship Comfort as it docked in San Juan.
With 1,000 beds, it’s the largest floating medical facility in the US military and will be used to provide more care for the island’s residents.
Méndez said the Comfort arrived with the island’s health system “right now on life support.”