‘The whole island was affected’: Queens health care workers give aid in Puerto Rico

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Photos courtesy of Jamaica Hospital

Queens-based medical providers stepped up big time to bring their knowledge and services directly to Puerto Rico in its time of need.

A 20-member group of volunteers from Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and Flushing Hospital Medical Center spent 16 days on the island in the wake of devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. The largely bilingual group included physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, emergency medical technicians and administrators.

The team provided medical assistance to hundreds of individuals each day in the cities of San Juan and Manati by supplementing staffing for the ongoing Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) missions and providing assistance to Federal Medical Shelters and the United States Naval Ship Comfort.

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Members of the group were also deployed to provide door-to-door services to residents living in Adjuardo. The group provided services from Oct. 24 through Nov. 8.

Paramedic Frank Filloramo, a Howard Beach native, said the country’s urgent need for medical services, as well as clean water, was apparent.

“The whole island was affected — whether power-wise, the lack of water — it’s very sad for the people, and for us to see,” he said.

Filloramo said he was tasked largely with providing services in a triage area, as well as field services. He went on numerous ambulance runs to more remote areas to make sure services were best provided to those who needed them most.

The group saw about 500 patients a day, the Queens native said.

“This is really my first love: I like helping people,” Filloramo said. “And this was a way to help more … You could see it in [patients’] faces that they were so thankful.”

All participants were honored at a celebration at Jamaica Hospital on Nov. 10.


The two hospitals are part of the MediSys Health Network, which has deployed volunteers to provide disaster relief in Far Rockaway for Superstorm Sandy, Lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks and other crises.

“It has always been our mission to provide relief to those in need,” said Bruce J. Flanz, president and chief executive officer of the MediSys Health Network. “We believe our experience in responding to disasters and exporting our talents where they can be utilized is something that we are proud to do and will continue to offer whenever it is needed.”


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