Six months on from Hurricane Maria, Stamford-based nonprofit Americares still has staff in Puerto Rico, helping the island’s health services recover from the storm and provide much-needed care to residents.
Americares mounted a full scale response in the immediate aftermath of Maria in both Puerto Rico and Dominica, and now the charity still has 15 full-time staff in region.
“Puerto Rico’s still wounded. Every day it’s getting better, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Americares’ head of Emergency Programs Kate Dischino.
She visited the island earlier this month. She said extending the availability of care through local clinics and helping facilities to prepare for future storms are both important elements of Americares' ongoing work.
Workers on the ground are also finding a great need for mental health services among survivors traumatized by their experiences during and after Maria.
“What we’re seeing is families that are still on generators, families still needing to repair their roofs, and you can imagine that survivors are under enormous stress," said Dischino. "And we’re already seeing as we talk to folks there’s huge anxiety with the next hurricane season only about three months away.”
Americares’ staff improves its impact by training local health workers, many of them survivors themselves. They can go on to address challenges like high levels of chronic disease, including diabetes and high blood pressure, conditions that have worsened because of lack of access to power and clean water.