Posted on December 2, 2017
Puerto Rico and its people are still in an emergency state. There are countless sick patients who are not well enough to leave on commercial flights. My team and I are currently fundraising for our fifth mission, during which we will be bringing down 30,000 lbs of relief aid and evacuating 140 patients. The total cost of this charter is $73,666. Please consider donating to our campaign, which is an immediate, meaningful and transparent way to help Puerto Rico in its time of need. Your donation has a value that is beyond monetary. By donating, you are helping us save lives.
IMPACT TO DATE: My team and I have delivered a total of 46,500 lbs. of relief aid to the island, and evacuated a total of 211 patients.
BACKGROUND: My name is Rosana Guernica. I am a junior at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA). On September 20th, my home, Puerto Rico, was hit by Hurricane Maria, a category 5 hurricane which devastated my island and its people. It has been an incredibly difficult and emotionally weighted time for all of us. The first few weeks after Maria hit, we were all desperate to help Puerto Rico but didn’t seem to know how. No one person could solve the islands problems. No government was able to keep Hurricane Maria’s victims from dying. I would receive messages from friends, family, and acquaintances on the ground who were without basic necessities such as drinkable water. I personally know of people who passed away those first few weeks due to dehydration, infection, and an inability to receive the proper and immediate medical attention they needed such as their dialysis treatment. Meanwhile I saw footage of supplies held up in the ports of San Juan, a few miles away from those who needed them.
There is money being raised that won’t keep people form dying. Supplies being collected that are being held in inventory through US and Puerto Rican ports. By the time normal distribution channels open, it will be too late for the people who needed it the most. It is time to come together and take action. It is time to help the most vulnerable before it is too late. There are infants who need baby formula, hospitals in need of batteries, generators, medications and equipment, and patients in need of immediate evacuation. I have spent the past month organizing humanitarian missions to Puerto Rico. Through crowdfunding I am able to afford private charters to take myself and much needed aid down to the island, deliver it directly into the hands of doctors and community leaders, and evacuate patients on the return flight, reuniting them with their families in Florida, who ensure that they receive the proper medical attention they require.
FIRST MISSION (OCTOBER 4th:) Dr. Alejandro Rodriguez, from Allegheny Health Network, and I completed our first mission to the island. We delivered 1,000 lbs. of medical supplies donated by Doctoras Boricuas to the Federico Trilla hospital in Carolina and the Pediatric Hospital of San Juan. We evacuated 6 passengers, cancer and dialysis patients in need of immediate medical attention as well as their respective caretakers (under campaign updates you will find letters from the family members of the evacuees). All passengers were immediately hospitalized or seen by a physician. For one of the passengers however, help and treatment did not come soon enough. She passed away a few weeks after arriving in Florida. I will forever keep her and her family in my heart. I am grateful that we were at least able to make sure she was comfortable and was able to see her children before she passed.
SECOND MISSION (OCTOBER 14th): I was able to complete our second mission to Puerto Rico, along with Dr. Yasdet Maldonado, from Allegheny Health Network, and four Puerto Rican students and staff members at Carnegie Mellon University. completed our second mission to the island. We delivered 2,500 lbs of supplies: medicine donated by Highmark Health for the Municipal Hospital of San Juan, medicine and supplies for the Pediatric Oncology Unit, and general relief aid for the surrounding areas of San Juan. We evacuated 22 patients, who had illnesses and conditions across the board: diabetes, chronic asthma, leukemia, osteoporosis, alzheimer's, dementia, and various heart conditions. We worked closely with doctors on the ground as well as the Stefano Foundation in order to identify the patients who were the most at risk, given their illnesses and the current living conditions on the ground.
THIRD MISSION (OCTOBER 28th): My team and I were joined by even more volunteers and physicians in order to successfully complete our third humanitarian mission, which effectively transported 15,000 lbs of supplies and transported 56 patients and evacuees. Dr. Miguel Busqueto, a Pittsburgh based ophthalmologist, identified several patients in need of immediate surgery on the island, after we helped get them to Fort Lauderdale, Dr. Busqueto covered their room and board and additional flights, in addition to preforming the surgeries pro bono. We identified other patients in need of proper and immediate medical attention through a network of doctors on the island as well as the efforts of the Stefano Foundation. Below is a breakdown of the donations made and where the supplies were delivered to:
- Big Brothers Foundation (BBF), based in Pittsburgh, PA, donated medical supplies that were desperately needed in the municipalities of Cabo Rojo and San German. A trusted contact from Connect Relief, Maria E. Soto, personally delivered the supplies directly to Dr Linette Otero, who runs a free clinic at the Cabo Rojo Emergency Center, and to the Mayor of San German, and Dr. Yuseff Galib, who have both organized mobile medical services throughout the municipality in addition to supplying local health centers.
- Doctoras Boricuas, spearheaded by Dr. Dalian Caraballo, donated over 3,000 lbs of medicine and medical supplies. Paolo Sorbello and his team picked up the needed aid and delivered it to the Hospital San Lucas in Ponce.
- Doctors4PuertoRico collected and donated over 3,000 lbs of medicine and medical supplies which were delivered to Centro de Cancer de La Mujer (Ponce), Doctors Cancer Center (Manati), and to Dr. David de Angel.
- The Stefano Foundation donated 1,000 lbs of food, water, bedding, and medicine, which was personally delivered by the head of the foundation, Zorimar Betancourt. The Stefano Foundation cooked meals the very next day for thousands in the Barrio Castaner in Lares.
- Molina Healthcare gathered and donated Survivor Water Filters to be distributed amongst their offices and coworkers on the island.
- Countless private citizens, college students, and small businesses donated their time, money, and supplies. A special thank you to: Charles Martinez from University of South Florida, who collected and transported general aid from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale, Survivor Water Filter, who donated filters which will help impeded the spread of water-borne disease epidemics, Bayer, who helped us acquire the needed over the counter medication, and many others. I delivered half of these supplies to two of my high school teachers, Gian Toyos (Biology) and Nelson Franqui (Mathematics) who delivered them to the Dorada Foundation and to Parroquia La Milagrosa Ponce. The other half was delivered to Isabel Dansky, who in collaboration with her church group, has been cooking meals for families in Barrio Obrero, Caguas, and Arecibo.
Thank you Dr. Gustavo Diaz, Dr. Alejandro Robles, and Dr. Isis Romero who donated their time and services to ensure that the patients were safely evacuated to Fort Lauderdale.
FOURTH MISSION (11/18): My team and I partners with Global Links - a Pittsburgh based medical relief organization - to deliver medical supplies and medicine to the University of Puerto Rico’s Comprehensive Cancer Center and to Renace Condado’s medical clinics in Vieques, Barranquitas, Orocovis, and Ciales. Global Links donated, organized, and packed the 28,000 lbs of cargo. On the return flight, we successfully evacuated over 120 patients. All who were received by family members and seen by physicians within the next few days. Puerto Rico needs your help, we need your help. Any donation is appreciated. Please share this link with your contacts. If you have any questions please feel free to contact one of the organizers:
Rosana Elena Guernica (Dietrich College, Class of 2019) [email protected]
Gabriel Ostolaza (CIT Class of 2018) [email protected]
Jose Lopez (Dietrich Class of 2019) [email protected]
Javier L.H. González Spivey (CFA Class of 2019) [email protected]
Ivan Cao-Berg (MCS Class of 2009) [email protected]
Paloma Sierra-Hernández (BXA Class of 2019) [email protected]
Gabriel Torres (College of Engineering Class of 2020) [email protected]