How two health care organizations are teaming up to support Puerto Rico's recovery

CareOne and Innovacare have teamed up to send physicians and medical supplies to Puerto Rico to assess the health care needs of the hurricane-battered island and assist in recovery efforts

Background

More than a month after Puerto Rico was ravaged by Hurricane's Maria and Irma the island is still struggling with damage to its infrastructure and health care system.  FEMA Administrator Brock Long said there is "a long way to go in recovery," adding that it will be "a Herculean effort" to rebuild the island, which suffered damage to bridges, roads, water supply, and power grids. The recovery effort is projected to cost more than $30 billion, according to CareOne and Innovacare.

Since the hurricanes, CareOne has sent supply planes to Puerto Rico, the Record reports, including one that delivered generators, medical personnel, and medical supplies to help physicians and clinics on the island and brought back to the mainland 10 patients in need of medical attention.

Aid trips

Earlier this month, CareOne and Innovacare sent 20 physicians to Puerto Rico to make an on-ground assessment of the island's medical needs. Ernani Sadural—one of the traveling physicians, who serves as director of global health for RWJ Barnabas Health—said, "It's really hard to get a full sense of all the patients' needs at this point. … We really want to just take a firsthand look for ourselves and speak to both federal and local authorities, as well as all of the other people out there currently helping."

Tim Hodges, chief strategy officer at CareOne, described the effort as a "scouting mission and assessment for future visits and future collaborations." Upon arrival, physicians visited a local hospital to meet with local providers, tour the facility, and assess the hospital's medical needs. CareOne and Innovacare ultimately plan to return to collaborate with local providers.  

The health care companies also sent over a plane full of medical supplies, including insulin and nebulizers, as well as 100 generators. One of the planes, which has the capacity to hold 50 injured passengers, will be used to "very critically ill patients…to the United States," Hodges said.

Starry Night Masquerade Ball fundraiser

In addition to the aid shipments, CareOne and Innovacare on Oct. 19 also hosted a "Starry Night Masquerade Ball" to raise money for the relief efforts. The fundraiser, which featured appearances from New York Giants players Jason Pierre-Paul and Odell Beckham Jr., raised more than $4 million. 

"We are challenging ourselves to raise money to rebuild the island as soon as possible," Daniel Straus, CEO of CareOne, said. He added that the goal of the fundraiser was to "fast-track disaster relief funds to Puerto Rico, where the residents are in crisis and millions still remain without power" (Torrejon, North Jersey Record, 10/11; NBC2, 10/7; CareOne release, 10/20).

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