Puerto Rico’s dialysis patients in trouble


This 18 April 2018 video is called Puerto Rican patients must travel 12 hours for dialysis.

By Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Kaiser Health News:

Puerto Rico’s Slow-Going Recovery Means New Hardship For Dialysis Patients

Sunday, April 22, 2018

VIEQUES, Puerto Rico — As the cry of a rooster heralded the dawn, Joe Garcia, 41, pulled a vial of insulin from the fridge. He filled a syringe and wrapped it in aluminum foil in preparation for the long day ahead.

“I tell him that from here to there, that’ll spoil”, said his mother, Martina Collazo de Jesus, 63, watching the preparations under the fluorescent bulb lighting the family kitchen.

It is a gamble Garcia, who has both diabetes and kidney failure, has taken since Hurricane Maria slammed this Puerto Rican island just east of the main island. More than six months after the storm, Garcia and 13 other Vieques residents must still board a plane three days a week for kidney dialysis on Puerto Rico’s main island.

Hurricane Maria totaled Vieques’ hospital, which housed the island’s only dialysis clinic.

That set off an ongoing crisis for patients with kidney failure such as Garcia — who cannot survive without dialysis and for whom the thrice-weekly round trip to a dialysis center in Humacao on Puerto Rico’s main island, including treatment, takes at least 12 hours.

When seriously ill patients like Garcia will again be able to access their lifesaving treatments in Vieques remains uncertain, as federal, local officials and nonprofit groups debate strategy and finances. No one knows when the hospital will be rebuilt, either. And the government and nonprofit organizations continue to punt the responsibility of paying for the flights.

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