Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Medical Teams Provide Care for Puerto Ricans

AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico – A tent from the department of Health and Human Services is set up in front of the Buen Samaritano Hospital Nov. 3, 2017. HHS, Air Force and Army medical providers have offered basic to acute care to residents throughout the region since Hurricane Maria rendered the hospital inoperable. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. J. Scott Detweiler)

Story by Sgt. Avery Cunningham

65th Press Camp Headquarters

AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico, Nov. 3, 2017 – Disaster Medical Assistance Team tents sit quiet and still in the shadow of Buen Samaritano Hospital. It is quiet all around the tents. The only noise comes from the workers preparing the hospital. Opening a door into the tents reveals a different scene.

Instead of the calm, breezy air outside, medical aid workers bustle around while patients receive care and walk-ins wait in chairs. It is organized chaos. The Minnesota-1 DMAT and service members with the Air Force and Army all work seamlessly together to handle dozens of patients. They operate like a well-oiled machine, providing what care they can.

“We see the basic illness and injuries, more severe critical cases, strokes, heart attacks, traumas, will be seen, evaluated, treated and we’ll stabilize and evacuate them by either air or ground ambulance as well to the next closest facility that is able to take them,” said Larry Himebaug, Minnesota-1 DMAT.

They work together as one team, including personnel from the DMATs, as well as the Air Force and Army. The units have active-duty service members, and reservists, including Puerto Rico National Guardsmen.

“So we have two branches and civilians all working together and everyone seems to enjoy all the different skills that everyone brings to the table,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Pravu Selvan, with the 633rd Medical Operations Squadron from Langley Air Force Base. “We’re all learning a lot from each other.”

“Working hand and hand with the DOD (Department of Defense) people here keeps you on your game because they’re very efficient, and they have a well-run organization,” said Himebaug. “It helps keep us focused for our mission objective.”

The tents have been set up since the hurricane because the hospital received damage during the storm and later suffered mold growth.

“We are providing medical care to a city of approximately 50,000-60,000 people and this is the one and only operating hospital in town, so we’re supporting this community’s medical needs until this hospital can be reopened and start providing care to the citizens,” said Himebaugh.

Workers are inside Buen Samaritano Hospital, repairing damage, cleaning rooms, and preparing it for patients. Nearby some private practices are already reopening as well.

“We definitely see a decline in the volume of patients we’re seeing and that’s a function of our success and the community being able to see their own patients as power comes back, doctors come back to town, and hurricane damage is corrected,” said Selvan.

As local practices and hospitals begin to accept more patients, the need for the temporary emergency medical tents will decline. It’s a sign of improving medical care conditions in Puerto Rico.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *