Puerto Rico, like many of the islands in the Caribbean, has a very long road to recovery after the devastation by Hurricane Maria. CareMount Medical employees, many with personal connections to the island, are leading the way to help Puerto Rico despite being hundreds of miles away. Many physicians and employees have come together collecting items inside of the organization to support the ongoing relief efforts.

“People outside of Puerto Rico would have a hard time understanding how devastating this has been. The uncertainty is overwhelming,” said Dr. Sandra Santiago, a radiologist at CareMount Medical with relatives in Puerto Rico. “My CareMount colleagues as well as our CEO, Dr. Scott Hayworth, have reached out to me from different locations throughout the Hudson Valley, with words of encouragement. I am very grateful for this.” 24

Communities and families in Puerto Rico have been left without basic necessities, including access to clean water, food, electricity and gas, to name a few. One of CareMount Medical’s biggest hurricane relief initiatives is donating hundreds of items from across the organization’s 43 locations, including diapers, food, batteries and flashlights.

“As a new grandma, and thinking of a baby not having a clean diaper or food to eat, I felt compelled to help. With the assistance of a few people and the power of social media, I was able to fill my car up twice with very generous donations from so many wonderful people,” said Dr. Martha Coccaro, a physical therapist at CareMount Medical who drove her donations to CareMount Medical for the drive.

Employees have also joined forces igniting their donation efforts with firehouses, police departments, churches and small businesses throughout their local communities. “These people are in desperate need of outside help and we now have a wonderful opportunity to bring articles they need from our offices from where they will be collected and make their way to Puerto Rico through the New York City Fire Department,” said Dr. Michael Altamura, a CareMount Medical urologist who facilitated the logistical connection to deliver the items collected by employees to the island.

As an organization, CareMount Medical has strengthened its mission both externally and internally to help and support not only their patients and those in need, but their entire medical and professional team with ties to Puerto Rico.

“Those who live inland and up in mountainous areas are the hardest to reach. So many have turned to drinking water from springs, streams or rivers, which is dangerous. Dengue fever is prevalent there and with the rainy season, recent hurricane, this has become worse. A whole island was impacted tremendously and all efforts, no matter how big or small are greatly appreciated. It helps to ease any anguish felt,” said Melissa Cortes-Candia, a nurse in CareMount Medical’s orthopedics department. “I have worked at the organization for five months and I am proud to work with a group who cares so much about today’s world issues.”