Rebuilding a Safe Haven for Future Crises

by Intercambios Puerto Rico Inc
Rebuilding a Safe Haven for Future Crises
Mar 2, 2020

Building resiliency and improving quality of life

In the last three months, we at Intercambios Puerto Rico have continued our work by supporting participants through harm reduction strategies and defending the dignity and rights of individuals who have problematic drug use and individuals who are homeless.  Our syringe exchange program continues to impact communities in the eastern side of the island by removing from circulation used syringes and providing new syringes to those who need them.  By doing thin s exchange, we reduce the risk of HIV and Hepatitis C via injection among drug users and to the community at large.  Between November and January, our program collected 60,561 used syringes and distributed at least 93,822 sterile syringes.  Our services now extend to a new community, Yabucoa.  We are also excited to share our success in implementing opioid  overdose prevention interventions among our partiicpants.  In the last three months we have distributed at least 164 dosis of Naloxone, a prescription medicine that helps revert an overdose and has saved many lives. 

We continue to work as well with our project "Grant for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals" (GBHI) that targets 12 municipalities, mostly in the eastern side of the island and also San Juan.  This project's goal is to provide psycho-social services to individuals who are homeless and may or may not have problematic drug use or severe mental health disorders.    This work is carried out by a mental health counselor, a substance use counselor, a social worker and a case manager that are providing direct services to at least 40 partiicipants on a regurlar basis.  Through this project participants have been referred to and enrolled in Medication Assisted Treatment with Buprenorphine or Metadones, have received primary medical care, mental health attention and have been connected to permanent housing/or in the process of.

Recently we hired a social worker who is has been working in developing natural disaster emergency protocols for attention to homeless individuals and persons who have problematic drug use.  Giving the recent earthquakes experienced in the south of the island it is evident the need to have these protocols in place and share them widely with elected officials and government institutions in charge of responding to emergency situation and natural disasters.  Although the earthquakes did not occur in the eastern side of the island, it is a reminder that emergency response protocols and prevention plans are a priority in the evolving context that Puerto Rico finds itself. 

A new mobile unit equiped with physical examination rooms was recently outfitted and put into the road in Humacao, Puerto Rico.  We are very excited for these new stage of our organization.  Our goal is to be able to provide mobile primary medical service, mental health services including buprenorphine treatment for compulsive drug use, HIV rapid testing to the most vulnerable populations, compulsive drug users, homeless individuals and sex workers.  You support is ever as important in order to help us reach our goals of providing high quality medical and harm reduction services, improving the quality of life of our partiicpants and champioining their rights to education, health and housing.  Thank you for accompanying us in this journey and for your continued support.


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Organization Information

Intercambios Puerto Rico Inc

Location: Fajardo - Puerto Rico
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Descrimina
Project Leader:
Debora Upegui
Fajardo, PR Puerto Rico
$5,012 raised of $50,000 goal
97 donations
$44,988 to go
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