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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

October event to combine healthcare services, activism

Physicians and Surgeons Association of Puerto Rico President Dr. Carlos Díaz Vélez, center (Richard Gutiérrez/The San Juan Daily Star)

By Richard Gutiérrez

In Puerto Rico, public health services appear to be in constant decline. There have been protests, and demands put before the government. Various health service providers have taken to the streets with their picket signs to protest. Hospitals are going bankrupt, and medical professionals are leaving the island, among other issues.

While traditional protests are commonly known for their marches and basic stoppage of services, members of the island medical field decided to take a different approach to protesting this time around.

At a press conference on Thursday, Physicians and Surgeons Association of Puerto Rico President Dr. Carlos Díaz Vélez officially announced an event that will take place on Oct. 14 at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in Hato Rey called “United for Health.”

The event will be focused on creating awareness and raising the alarm about the current medical situation on the island. The event is open to the public and will offer numerous health services to the public. Mayors of various municipalities have offered transportation services to get people to the event, which is being billed as the largest concentration of health services to be provided on a single day in Puerto Rico, ever. Vaccines will be offered, blood donation, glucose tests, medical assistance and even small seminars teaching people about health. Apart from the healthcare services, eyesight care will be offered as well.

The press conference was attended by numerous members of diverse health organizations, professional groups, civil society entities, religious organizations, churches, municipal administrations, and governmental agencies and from society in general. Hundreds of entities have become participants of this event.

“The slogan states that we are all patients and this will be the biggest outcry that patients will express because there will be thousands of people, and patients, with their presence, can tell the leadership of this island that the people of Puerto Rico value and defend their health,” Díaz Vélez said. “We will even provide a table where we will be taking signups to take people to Congress to work on the discrimination that exists in Medicare in Puerto Rico.”

“This will be a claim not only to the government of Puerto Rico, but also to the federal government for their right to be paid fairly,” he added. “Medicare pays patients here less than they do on the mainland -- only a fourth of what they pay over there.”

While almost all health providers were invited to the press event, insurers were not, Díaz Vélez said.

“Everyone knows the issues we have with insurers,”he said. “They are not invited; this is for patients and health providers. It is a chance for the people of the island to express themselves against the healthcare situation.”

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