Through this commitment Afya Foundation, with the support of their partners will build on their commitment to provide access to care for those in rural areas, particularly the sick and elderly, by delivering 30,000 pounds of requested medical supplies to home care providers and three Federally Qualified Health Centers. The supplies include hospital beds, mattresses, wheelchairs, walkers, canes, adult diapers, exam tables, stretchers, wound care supplies, and general medical supplies. The supplies and equipment will be transported via the cargo space on a 737 jet. Greater New York Hospital Association, Jan Soderberg of Pearl Aircraft, and Swift Air will fund and coordinate the transportation of the supplies. StratAir will assist with the cargo buildup, breakdown, and ground handling. Accion Social will distribute the equipment to home care providers that service for over 1000 older adults throughout the 76 municipalities, and to Federally Qualified Health Centers in Hatillo, Arecibo and Utuado that care for over 16,000 patients per year.
Afya will draw upon its extensive experience in disaster relief when building shipments and assessing community needs. Acción Social, as a tenured social service group, will target its clients and affiliates island wide to ensure that no community is left uncared for.
January 24, 2019: Supplies will be picked up from Afya’s facility in NY.
January 26, 2019: Supplies will be delivered and loaded into plane.
January 27, 2019: The plane will arrive in Puerto Rico will the unloaded
Jauealry 27, 2019 – January 28, 2018: Supplies will be delivered to healthcare facilities. Individual distribution will occurr on an ongoing basis.
Beyond the chartered airlift, Afya Foundation will continue to mobilize medical resources into Puerto Rico to support the vulnerable.
Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, causing significant damage to the island's health sector and leaving rural communities without access to basic necessities such as water and electricity. This heavily compromised the ability of clinics and care centers to adequately provide for sick and elderly patients. The death toll in Puerto Rico since Maria was officially recorded at 64, however a study conducted by George Washington University found that the death toll was over 2,900. Many of these deaths were bedridden patients whose caretakers could not physically reach them, while others had been relying on lifesaving machines like respirators that were suddenly without power. Several others, immobile and now without a reliable means of communication, were confined to their homes and had no way to call for help. While supplies had reached the island, they were held up often in ports and sat underutilized in containers as there was little infrastructure to organize their transport and diesel was scarce.
Afya recognized these needs and made a Commitment to Action in 2018 to address the urgent medical needs of elders in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. To address this issue, Afya Foundation partnered with Puerto Rico’s social agency Acción Social to develop a long-term program to support elders on the island. After conducting needs assessments in July 2018 Afya and Accion Social delivered and distributed 100,000 lbs. of medical supplies to older adults and the medically frail in over 1,000 households; with a focus on delivery to rural and hard-to-reach areas. In addition, Afya initiated geriatric training, trauma and resilience education along with psychosocial support for 100 healthcare workers supporting older adults throughout Puerto Rico. This group included: nursing aides, nurses, psychologists, social workers, family members and community leaders.
Afya is searching for financial support to support the delivery of additional supplies and equipment. As well, Afya is interested in media support to break into the conversation of new communities. Afya has been covered extensively in Puerto Rican media, as well as in local media affiliated with their donors, but they would like to bolster their media presence in more nationally syndicated sources. With new, more diverse media representation, Afya can identify new partners from different backgrounds, so as to act with malleability and inclusivity in its relief work.
Afya can serve as an implementation partner for agencies looking to provide resources and support to Puerto Rico. Additionally, Afya’s close relationship with reporters at nationally syndicated news sources like the New York Times and CNN, as well as its extensive online media presence, can provide support and recognition to partners. As a tenured aid and health organization, Afya can provide best practices to partners and provide pointers on best practices for supply collection, delivery, and distribution.