Our volunteers with the staff of Corporacion SANOS
When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 20 2017, Corporación SANOS sprang into action. Part of a network of 76 health clinics in Puerto Rico serving vulnerable populations on the island, including the homeless and uninsured, Corporación SANOS immediately began providing primary health care to those affected and injured by the storm, taking overflows of patients from nearby hospitals.
Then on October 2, the unthinkable happened— Corporación SANOS’ generator collapsed and exploded, cutting off the clinic’s access to power and leaving them struggling to meet the needs of their community.
“That was the darkest day ever in my life,” said Cesar, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Corporación SANOS, recalling the day the generator collapsed. Not only did it compromise the clinic’s ability to provide essential health care services, but it also jeopardized their entire vaccine inventory. With the generator blown, “things started to be very, very difficult,” said Cesar.
Then they got a call. A local partner informed Cesar that International Medical Corps was supplying generators in Puerto Rico and one arrived for Corporación SANOS that same day. After its installation, Corporación SANOS was able restore power to its medical equipment and water, ventilation, and communications systems, and resume critical clinic operations and services. To help ensure their full recovery, International Medical Corps also deployed volunteer medical teams to work alongside Corporación SANOS staff and helped repair their damaged infrastructure.
In the months following the initial disaster, International Medical Corps has continued to deepen its partnerships with local clinics in Puerto Rico like Corporación SANOS to help ensure they are better prepared for future emergencies. Over the last eight months, International Medical Corps has supported 43 federally qualified clinics across Puerto Rico with grant support aimed at building their resilience, helping to install solar power systems, expand mobile outreach and prescription services, procure mobile generators, hire mental health specialists to teach clinic staff about crisis and stress management, anxiety, and motivation, and much more.
At Corporación SANOS, International Medical Corps supported the installation of a solar powered vaccine refrigerator to help protect the clinic’s vaccine cold chain during future disasters.
“International Medical Corps has started to be part of the family,” said Cesar. “They focused on our real needs, helping us better reach the people we serve,” he added.
With another hurricane season on the horizon, Corporación SANOS is taking additional emergency preparedness measures, prepositioning food and water for employees inside the building, as well as extra fuel to power the generators. While Cesar’s children still go to a school without power, he remains optimistic about the future. “The future looks good,” he said.
We thank the GlobalGiving community for their generous support of International Medical Corps’ response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico as we continue to address the ongoing health needs of vulnerable communities today.
SANOS staff assess the damage in their community
The damaged roof of the Corporacion SANOS clinic