Hurricane Maria made landfall in Dominica on September 18, 2017, causing widespread destruction. The storm then slammed into Puerto Rico, killing thousands and knocking out power to the entire island. In total, Hurricane Maria caused more than $90 billion dollars in damage and left hundreds of thousands without access to health care.
One year after the storm, Americares continues to restore health services and meet survivors’ health needs. Our recovery programming is focused in three key areas: restoring access to health care in storm-damaged communities, expanding mental health services for survivors and helping health care facilities better prepare for future storms.
Americares is committed to supporting continued recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and Dominica. To date, Americares has provided more than $40 million in aid for Maria survivors, including medicine and medical supplies, repairs for health facilities, mobile health clinics and essential mental health and psychosocial programming. Our work is accomplished in partnership with 50 local nonprofit organizations and support from more than 14,000 donors.
Hurricane Maria ripped roofs off health centers and flooded clinics, damaging medicines and ruining medical supplies. Struggling health care providers faced increasing demand. Americares provided essential medicine and medical supplies to restock damaged health facilities and mobilized medical teams to treat survivors in remote communities across Puerto Rico. Our support helped clinics stay open, providing fuel for generators and other emergency needs. One year after the storm, we have provided medicines and medical supplies for survivors. Americares continues to supply health centers throughout Puerto Rico with donated medicine and medical supplies. We are also planning long-term programming for patients with chronic diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, that will begin after the current hurricane seaon. In Dominica, Americares is repairing damaged health facilities and improving how the island manages its medicine and medical supplies through supply chain and inventory management.
Mental Health and Psychosocial Services
Many health workers and first responders are themselves survivors of Hurricane Maria. Our mental health programming arms health care providers with skills to handle stress and trauma—allowing them to care for patients affected by the storm while managing their own mental health needs. One year after Maria, Americares has trained more than 1,000 health care providers and first responders to recognize and address common post-disaster systems. Our training, workshops and wellness sessions better equip health workers to care for themselves and their patients, building resilience and increasing local health care capacity.
Preparedness and Resilience
To ensure health centers are ready for the next storm, Americares is providing disaster preparedness training for health workers who serve low- income patients. The training provides a practical approach to preparedness and addresses continuity of operations, coordination and communication.
Americares emergency preparedness workshops for health facilities include training and developing an after-action report and improvement plan. Americares is also pre-positioning critical medicines and medical supplies in advance of future disasters and providing diverse power sources, including solar, so facilities can provide health care during power outages.