FEMA awards over $39 million to repair island medical facilities
By The Star Staff
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded over $37.6 million to repair the Ryder Memorial Hospital in Humacao, one of the largest medical facilities in eastern Puerto Rico, and more than $1.8 million for its Critical Healthcare Services Center (CDT by its Spanish initials) in San Lorenzo.
Federal funding will allow infrastructure restoration and contents replacement at Ryder Memorial’s Humacao medical complex, as well as rebuilding from the ground up its nursing home, a senior living facility that was nearly devastated by Hurricane Maria. Obligations are also earmarked for permanent work at its CDT in San Lorenzo, one of the few primary care facilities available to the more than 37,000 people who live in that municipality.
“This award significantly changes how the Municipality of Humacao serves its most vulnerable population -- the elderly, people who need prolonged nursing care and those who are sick and require immediate medical attention,” Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator José G. Baquero said. “Also, to lessen the impact of future disasters, obligations include nearly $13.4 million for mitigation measures to ensure continuity of services.”
Carmen Colón, the executive director of Ryder Memorial Hospital and affiliated corporations, said the repairs “will guarantee better patient care because we can get more accurate diagnoses in less time, allowing for faster and more effective decision-making in the required treatment.”
Established in 1914, Ryder Memorial Hospital receives more than 6,000 patients per month and has some 500 employees. Proposed repairs include interior and exterior infrastructure work and replacing safety and climate control equipment, including fire alarms, smoke detectors, air conditioner and condensing units, and water tanks, and repairs throughout the hospital’s electrical infrastructure.
FEMA funding will also be used to replace damaged medical equipment at Ryder Memorial – from stretchers, surgical tables, computers and medical carts to high-tech machines such as MRI, X-ray and infant protection machines.
Meanwhile, Ryder Memorial nursing home, established in 1995 as a long-term care facility for elderly citizens and Alzheimer patients, will be constructed using current building standards and codes related to healthcare facilities. Colón said they will begin the process of evaluating the new facility with proposals for construction and design, as well as the possibility of adding new and diverse services.
Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3) Executive Director Manuel A. Laboy Rivera said “Ryder Memorial Hospital has already begun developing some of the permanent works that give resilience to its facilities.”
“Meanwhile, other works are in the planning stage, as well as the reconstruction of the San Lorenzo CDT, which is led by the Department of Health,” he said. “I urge everyone to apply for the funding available through the Working Capital Advance pilot program, so their projects can continue to advance.”
To date, FEMA has awarded over $42 million for permanent work projects at Ryder Memorial Hospital and affiliated corporations, and nearly $6.4 million for emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Maria.