Recently a team of six people from Lake County traveled to Puerto on a mission trip and touched the lives of hundreds of people. The group was led by Gretchen San Miguel, MD, and included Carla Haack, MD, Ricardo Vasquez-Duarte, MD, Penny Agenboard, RN, and SWAT team tactical operators, Pablo Rivera and Robert Sellers from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Through the generosity of John Morgan or Morgan & Morgan Law Offices, the group had private air transportation, Florida Hospital Waterman contributed supplies and medications for the trip.
Their primary objective was to provide medical relief in the most rural and remote communities on the island where no aid had been received. With more than 2,000 pounds of donated supplies, they worked side by side with local and military authorities to reach those in urgent need of medical care.
Their work was often delayed due to roads needing to be cleared and at times they had to hike mountainous terrain to reach the small towns, leaving vehicles behind.
“The total devastation was heart-breaking to witness,” said Dr. San Miguel. “We were able to treat a lot of diabetics who had been without insulin for an extended time and found that most people, including the children, were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Their first day, 124 patients were treated at a shelter for those who were homeless due to Hurricane Maria. The military escort helped them hike to homes in the mountains, and provided X-rays, ultrasounds, along with two to three weeks of food and medical supplies for each town. Many people were treated in their homes or at community centers and church clinics where crowds gathered as word spread of the team’s arrival.
“Thanks to the generous donations, we were able to treat over 400 patients in Puerto Rico,” says Dr. San Miguel. “We actually had a surplus of supplies and were able to donate them to the U.S. Military convoy that was flying helicopters and repelling into the remotest parts of the island to provide medical treatments.”
The mission trip is one of many supported by Florida Hospital Waterman to assist in the rebuilding of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
“It is important for us to not only look at our mission of extending the healing ministry of Christ internally, within the hospital walls and in the community but also anywhere we can make an impact,” said Abel Biri, president and chief executive officer, Florida Hospital Waterman.