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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor ascribes dearth of trauma care in the west to shortage of specialists, funds for unit upgrades

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Thursday expressed concern about the shortage of medical specialists in the Mayagüez Trauma Center.

“I understand that the biggest obstacle to having a comprehensive trauma center is the lack of specialized medical personnel who want to work in that area,” the governor said. “That is the information that reaches me. It comes to me, for example, from the hospital itself that is operating right there in Mayagüez and that has limited trauma facilities and that has difficulty attracting doctors to work in that area. That is why the main trauma center we have is the Medical Center [in Río Piedras] and that is why patients are transported by air, by helicopter to the Medical Center.”

He noted that there are other complications such as the lack of funds to improve the facilities of the Mayagüez Trauma Center. While the Legislature allocated funds, the former mayor of Mayagüez used them for other purposes.

“We are taking measures to prevent the emigration of doctors and to attract more doctors,” Pierluisi said. “We have increased the number of medical residencies in Puerto Rico by more than 40; an increase of 100 additional residencies is already planned. We have increased the payment given to residents in these medical residences, requiring them to care for Plan Vital patients for two years after completing their residencies.”

He also noted improvements in the payments to doctors under the Vital Plan.

“We are making strong, assertive efforts with the secretary of Health of the United States, Javier Becerra, to improve the charges or pay that Advantage plans receive subject to improving the rates they pay to doctors,” he added.

Andrew Rodríguez Vega complained about the lack of a neurosurgeon to treat his gravely ill mother, who had internal brain bleeding.

“No neurosurgeon wants to take her case,” he said. “It hurts very much,” he said.

The STAR reported on Wednesday that Evelyn Vázquez Nieves, who is bidding to become the first female mayor of Mayagüez next November, announced that she had met with island Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López regarding “the most important issues at the Mayagüez Medical Center.”

“He agreed, at our request, to include the Mayagüez Medical Center in the new network of trauma centers in Puerto Rico,” the former senator said.

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