ORLANDO, Fla. - Five Florida Hospital doctors have returned from a two-week tour of Puerto Rico during which they provided lifesaving care to people in some of the hardest-hit regions.
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Most of the doctors are from Puerto Rico so the medical mission was one they felt they needed to complete.
But finding a way to get into some parts of the island took a week and they had to get through a lot of red tape.
“We were the first volunteers getting provisional licenses to help the island,” said Dr. Katia Lugo.
The doctors applied for provisional licenses one through five, allowing them to bring lifesaving medical care to Puerto Ricans in the days after Hurricane Maria shut down power and communication.
Once licensed, they hit the ground running.
“We immediately started CPR. We intubated the patient and we essentially helped manage the patient to where she was able to live,” said Dr. Julian Trevino of one patient the doctors treated.
They treated more patients than they could count.
“Going to Aguadilla and seeing the needs of all the patients there, it changed my life,” said Dr. Alfredo Tirado.
Perhaps hardest for the doctors was seeing lives that could not be saved.
“Maybe in other conditions and settings, these people didn’t have to suffer or die,” said Tirado.
That problem continues on the island, as those with chronic illnesses are not able to get the help they need.
“Diabetes without insulin, dialysis patients getting two hours of dialysis versus four to six hours that they need,” said Tirado.
In the weeks ahead, needs will change, but Florida Hospital now had three groups of doctors able to help.
“I think this is going to be a long journey and we are planning to be there as long as they need it,” said Lugo.
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