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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Isabela medical center mostly operational despite extensive blackout

Isabela Mayor Miguel Méndez Pérez

By The Star Staff

Everyone who’s lived on the island for a decade or more knows that blackouts are fairly commonplace, yet somehow they just continue to happen regardless of how much time has passed since extreme weather events like Hurricane Maria.

The municipality of Isabela has once again suffered from another one of these infamous blackouts. Isabela Mayor Miguel “Ricky” Méndez Pérez informed the citizens of the northwestern coastal municipality late last week about severe damage to a line that carries 2,700 volts of electricity and alone supplies electricity for about 6,600 clients of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

“This is the information we have received from the private operator [LUMA Energy],” the mayor said Friday. “I can confirm that the entirety of the Isabela urban square [is without power].”

Besides homes, businesses, industries, and governmental and professional offices affected by the blackout, the Lamela neighborhood was also without electrical service, as were Costa Brava, Jardines del Noroeste, Corchado and Medina, along with homes and businesses along highways PR-472 and PR-113 in the Cotto neighborhood, the governmental center, the town’s marina and the health unit administered by the Isabela Center of Advanced Medicine (CIMA by its Spanish acronym).

Sandra Gerena Cortés, CIMA’s director of operations, noted that thanks to the use of generators, the center is still actively offering services in the emergency room and the administration area, as well as in the laboratory. The only CIMA unit that for now has suspended its functions because of the blackouts is the X-ray division due to the complexity of the equipment.

The good news for residents announced by the mayor was that as long as the blackout lasts, people who need to charge batteries for medical equipment or respiratory aid equipment can go to the CIMA and the hospital’s personnel will gladly assist them. According to data from LUMA, the average Puerto Rican resident endures 7.6 outages a year. Many on the island claim meanwhile that electrical service hasn’t improved much since LUMA took over two years ago.

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