Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the deployment of 78 medical personnel from across New York’s health care community to provide Puerto Rico with critically-needed health care assistance across the island. As part of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the volunteer initiative was made possible by the generous efforts of Greater New York Hospital Association, the Healthcare Association of New York State, Community Health Care Association of New York State, New York State Nurses Association and 1199SEIU. Transportation to Puerto Rico was donated by JetBlue Airlines and all 78 volunteers departed John F. Kennedy International Airport this afternoon en route to San Juan.
“New York continues to provide critical relief to our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico,” Governor Cuomo said. “Many still do not have access to essential medical care and by deploying medical professionals and supplies, we are ensuring that our fellow Americans have access to health care as they continue down the long road to recovery.”
At the request of Governor Ricardo Rosselló, Governor Cuomo worked closely with GNYHA, HANYS, CHCANYS, NYSNA and 1199SEIU to identify volunteers to deploy to Puerto Rico. The first round of 78 volunteers will act as health response teams, coming from:
- Albany Medical Center;
- Montefiore Medical Center;
- Mt. Sinai Hospital;
- Northwell Health;
- New York Presbyterian; and
- Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.
Health response teams will include physicians, physician assistants, nurses and nurse practitioners and will provide general medical assistance at medical shelters and hospitals. All volunteers have been processed through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a mutual aid agreement between states and territories to share resources during natural and man-made disasters, and New York State will extend workers compensation benefits for those who volunteer.
The team of volunteers will be deployed for 14 days and will serve at either the Federal Medical Center in Manati or will provide support on the critical relief missions that are being carried out by Disaster Medical Assistance Teams across Puerto Rico. At the conclusion of their mission, a similarly sized medical team will deploy on October 26th to serve in the same capacity.
In addition to the team of personnel, emergency medical supplies continue to be delivered to Puerto Rico via a partnership with GNYHA, the Afya Foundation, and UJA-Federation of New York. Working together to coordinate all aspects of the missions, including securing private jets and purchasing more than $1 million in supplies, the partnership has delivered more than 30,000 lbs. of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to 16 hospitals and health care organizations and 12 community organizations to help ensure that Puerto Rican residents have access to critical medical care. Shipments have included vital medical supplies including 3,000 vials of insulin, transplant surgery drugs, pediatric oncology drugs, antibiotics and vaccines.
The partnership has also completed the first of several shipments of non-medical supplies such as water, bags, and satellite phones for the 26,000 SEIU members who live and work in Puerto Rico. These shipments will be used to establish six SEIU “help centers” across the island.
“The heartbreaking and devastating situation in Puerto Rico compels us to take action,” said Robin Hayes, president and chief executive officer, JetBlue. “Using our strengths as an airline, our partnerships, and our mission of inspiring humanity, we aim to make a positive impact on this island we call home.”
Health Department Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said “When Governor Cuomo put out the call for volunteers to assist in the relief efforts in Puerto Rico, I knew that the selfless and dedicated health care professionals from across the state would respond in droves, without hesitation. I am truly touched by the outpouring of support that has come from the health care community and look forward to working with them as we continue to aid in the rebuilding of Puerto Rico.”
Ken Raske, President of Greater New York Hospital Association, said, “Being at JFK today to personally thank each and every health care worker as they boarded their flight to Puerto Rico was one of the most rewarding moments of my entire career. These extraordinary individuals, and the world-class institutions they represent, are the true spirit of New York’s health care community and a reminder of the nobility of the health care profession. They answered the Governor’s call to serve without hesitation, and we thank them.”
Bea Grause, President of the Healthcare Association of New York, said, “We are so proud of the physicians, nurses and other health care professionals who are selflessly traveling today to Puerto Rico to help those in need. Through their service, they demonstrate the values the entire New York healthcare community shares of compassionate care to all who need it.”
President and CEO of the Community Health Care Association of New York State Rose Duhan said, “New York’s community health centers are a vital source of primary care throughout the State, and even more so in an emergency. CHCANYS is honored to participate in the Governor’s Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and to work with health care partners statewide to ensure that the residents of Puerto Rico have access to much-needed primary and emergency care. We commend the providers from Callen-Lorde Community Health Center who have volunteered their time and expertise to assist with this effort.”
George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East said, “Our union is proud to work with Governor Cuomo to recruit healthcare workers for these vital missions to provided needed medical aid to the people of Puerto Rico. We stand committed to provide as much immediate relief as we can and join the long-term work of rebuilding the island’s healthcare infrastructure so that residents receive the quality care they deserve.”
Puerto Rico Relief & Rebuilding Fund
Governor Cuomo has engaged the Partnership for New York City, the city’s leading business organization, to establish the Puerto Rico Relief & Rebuilding Fund at New York Community Trust, a public foundation, that will make grants to local charitable organizations in Puerto Rico that are helping with recovery and rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, focusing on the most needy households and communities. Funds and in-kind contributions are being solicited from the business community, with a minimum donation of $10,000.
To date, New York has deployed:
- 132 National Guard Military Police
- 60 National Guard soldiers
- Four Black Hawk helicopters
- More than 70 Port Authority personnel
- More than 50 State Troopers
- 20 New York Power Authority experts
- Two Department of Environmental Conservation drone pilots
New York has sent more than 433,000 bottles of water, 19,000 canned goods, 59,000 packages of baby wipes, 89,000 packages of diapers, 40,000 containers of baby food, 15,000 juice pouches, 8,600 solar lamps, 6,300 pounds of dry food and 10 generators to the island.
For more information about the recovery and relief efforts underway in Puerto Rico, and to learn how you can assist, please visit the Governor’s Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands webpage.