Written by Lara Cooper

Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 18 as a Category 1 hurricane, causing an island-wide power outage and causing severe damage to many areas, particularly the southwestern part of Puerto Rico. In the six weeks since the storm fell, Direct Relief has responded with continuous shipments of medical support.

Since the hurricane came ashore in Puerto Rico, Direct Relief has shipped over $484,000 in medical aid to the island to 23 recipients. More than 194,000 specified daily doses of drugs have been included in the 90 shipments that have since departed, and much of the response has come from medicinal materials that have been organized in Puerto Rico as part of its strategic role as a regional disaster response hub in the Caribbean and beyond.

before the storm

Before the start of the 2022 hurricane season, 28 tons of emergency response supplies and equipment were in place, including 11 hurricane preparedness units containing commonly needed medications and post-storm care supplies, field medicine packages for triage care, personal care items, oxygen concentrators, and tents. Placing personal protective equipment, solar chargers, and other essential items for emergency response at Direct Relief’s Puerto Rican warehouse.

Because of this emergency preparedness and medical support organization at Puerto Rico Direct Relief Center, after Hurricane Fiona hit the southwestern part of Puerto Rico on September 18, Puerto Rican Direct Relief staff were able to immediately mobilize and distribute medical support to community health centers and other medical organizations in the affected areas.

This rapid direct relief response allowed many local health partners to start community outreach activities and to very effectively affect the very vulnerable communities devastated by Hurricane Fiona, not only in Puerto Rico but in the Dominican Republic as well.

Regional Response Center

After Hurricane Fiona made a direct impact on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, Direct Relief was able to ship 36 field medical packages from a Puerto Rican warehouse to PAHO, further mobilizing the Puerto Rican Center as an effective emergency response option for disasters in the Caribbean.

An emergency response expansion outside Puerto Rico’s hub, a shipment that includes a hurricane preparedness unit and 36 field medical packages, is being mobilized and scheduled for shipment this week to Honduras in response to the latest downpour and flooding following Hurricane Julia.

Response after Fiona

In the days following Hurricane Fiona, Direct Relief was able to coordinate and distribute 14 deliveries from the Puerto Rican hub, which included seven hurricane preparedness units (including one shipped to Honduras to respond to Hurricane Julia), 126 field medics packages (including 30 They were shipped to the Dominican Republic and 36 were shipped to Honduras in response to Hurricane Julia), 40 personal care kits, eight oxygen concentrators, 167 solar chargers, five cases of water purification tags, and a case of face masks, all pre-positioned in a Puerto Rican warehouse.

Medical shipments were delivered to health centers and clinics across the island, including Med Centro, Ponce Medical School Foundation, COSSMA, Centro de Servicios Primarios de Salud de Patillas, Dr. Ramon Ruiz Arnau-PRDOH Hospital, Salud Integral en la Montana, Inc. (SIM), Center for Immigrant Health, CSM Hatillo, and Neomed Center. Many of these health centers have used medical supplies in their mobile health units funded by Direct Relief to establish health outposts in the worst affected communities, and to provide care outside the clinic walls.

Direct Relief will continue to respond as recovery progresses in Puerto Rico.

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