By Naeisha Rose
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday he is ready to ship supplies and deploy medical personnel to Puerto Rico through his Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for the island.
He is working in conjunction with UPS and UNICEF USA to deliver and distribute donated supplies from health organizations, unions, businesses and the larger New York community to the common wealth country.
“New York has witnessed firsthand the devastation that Mother Nature is capable of leaving behind and in the wake of Hurricane Maria, we continue to offer assistance and supplies to our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico,” Cuomo said. “With this partnership, we ensure that our brothers and sisters on the island of Puerto Rico have access to adequate medical care as they work to recover and rebuild.”
UPS will deliver over 100,000 bottles of water donated by individuals across New York state, according to the governor.
“With critical infrastructure damage in Puerto Rico and a complex recovery process, public-private partnerships like this create a critical foundation for getting aid and goods distributed as quickly as possible,” said Eduardo Martinez, the president of the UPS Foundation. “UPS is proud to deploy our air and ground resources to assist in the effort.”
UNICEF USA will be delivering emergency supply kits to approximately 60,000 people, according to Cuomo. The gear will include hygiene supplies, water purification tablets, water buckets, soap, toothpaste, detergent, sanitary pads and more.
“The devastation in Puerto Rico demands that we all play a role in responding, and UNICEF USA remains committed to its mission to put Children First – here and around the world,” said UNICEF USA President and CEO Caryl Stern. “UNICEF USA is proud to join forces with our longstanding partner UPS and the governor’s team to deliver lifesaving supplies for the children and families in Puerto Rico who need it most.”
More than 100 medical personnel consisting of physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and nurse practitioners will provide general medical assistance to health organizations and hospitals in Puerto Rico, according to Cuomo.
Helping to provide, manage and coordinate the health teams were 1199SEIU, NYSNA and the Greater New York Health Hospital Association.
“The unfolding tragedy in Puerto Rico and other islands weighs heavily on all New Yorkers, and the health care community is committed to doing everything it can to assist affected friends and families,” said the Greater New York President Kenneth Raske. “GNYHA is doing its part on several fronts, including providing desperately needed medical supplies and working with our member hospitals and systems to develop health care teams that will stand ready to be deployed and provide hands-on care.”
Providing the medical resources for the health teams to use is the UJA-Federation.
“We are also grateful to GNYHA and Afya for helping us deliver critical healthcare supplies to those in need, reflecting UJA-Federation’s commitment to implementing Jewish values of helping by bringing resources and community together,” said Mark Medin, the executive vice president of UJA-Federation. “We are proud to be working with the local Puerto Rican Jewish community to distribute these supplies on our behalf to those in most need in Puerto Rico.”
The other institution procuring medical resources for Puerto Rico is Afya, a humanitarian organization, which finds environmentally friendly ways of gathering supplies by going to healthcare centers that have excess supplies. Since 2008 it has recovered almost 8.9 million pounds of usable medical equipment that costs $26 million from American hospitals that would have dumped them, according to their website.
There will be addition missions in the coming weeks in which $500,000 in critical medical supplies will be dispatched, according to Cuomo.
New York has deployed 107 National Guard Military Police, 60 National Guard soldiers, four Black Hawk helicopters, more than 70 Port Authority personnel, more than 50 State Troopers, 20 New York Power Authority experts and two Department of Environmental Conservation drone pilots to date, according to the governor. Additionally, New York has sent more than 25,000 bottles of water, 4,000 canned goods, 17,000 packages of baby wipes, 4,000 packages of diapers and 10 generators to the island.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose