From left to right: Americares SVP of Communications Jed Selkowitz, mobile clinic donor Joan Weisman, Americares Chief Development Officer Christine Squires and Americares Director of Emergency Response Kate Dischino at the sendoff ceremony. Photo by Marc Birnbach /Americares.
Stamford, Conn. – Nov. 28, 2017 – The Americares mobile clinic, which was deployed for Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, will make its final stop in Puerto Rico as a health facility for Hurricane Maria survivors.
Americares announced the donation during a sendoff ceremony for the mobile clinic at the relief and development organization’s Stamford headquarters today, on Giving Tuesday.
Americares is donating the mobile medical unit to the Ponce Medical School Foundation in Puerto Rico, which is providing outreach to survivors in communities hard hit by Hurricane Maria, including primary care and mental health services. More than two months after the hurricane, much of the island remains without power, disrupting access to care in many communities.
“The mobile clinic will allow us to support the restoration and stabilization of health services to underserved areas and help families having difficulty accessing care in the aftermath of the storm,” said Dr. Kenira Thompson, president of the Ponce Medical School Foundation. “The unit will provide a means to reach out to patients and families who may require follow-up services and access to care, in support of the island’s physicians, medical groups and health centers. As the recovery efforts are underway in Puerto Rico, we recognize that the psychological and physical aftermath of impacted communities will be long term. As such, we will continue our community visits, and hope to reduce the physical and psychological burden of the patients we serve.”
The 40-foot converted school bus with two exam rooms has long served as a back-up facility for clinics damaged by major storms. Americares deployed the mobile clinic to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to Texas after Hurricane Ike in 2008 and to damaged health centers across New York City after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
The majority of the time the unit served as a mobile outpost for the Americares Free Clinics in Connecticut, providing care for low-income, uninsured residents. Over the years, it was stationed in Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Groton, New London, New Milford, Norwich and Stamford. It was in service in Stamford until January when the clinic moved to a permanent location.
“The mobile clinic served our free clinics well and will be put to good use in Puerto Rico where many health facilities are still closed or operating at limited capacity in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria,” said Americares Director of Emergency Response Kate Dischino.
Thirteen hospitals and dozens of medical clinics across the island continue to operate on generator power, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm on September 20, flooding communities, destroying homes and causing massive power outages. Americares Hurricane Maria Relief Program is restoring access to care for survivors—many of whom are still living without electricity or clean water. Americares is delivering medicine and relief supplies, deploying medical professionals and implementing mental health programs for survivors. To date, Americares has provided over $33 million in aid to help Puerto Rico recover from the storm.
At the same time, Americares continues to support health services in hurricane-damaged communities in Florida, Texas and other parts of the Caribbean. Americares responds to an average of 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable communities.