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Hurricane stresses Puerto Rico’s already weak health system


    Patients lie in their beds at hospital in Catano, Puerto Rico. In Hurricane Maria’s wake, hospitals and their employees are wrestling with the same shortages of basic necessities as everyone else. There are people who are unable to keep insulin or other medicines refrigerated.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico >> Hurricane Maria is stressing Puerto Rico’s health system, which already suffers from long waits and a severe shortage of specialists amid a decade-long economic recession.

Facilities are bursting with patients and often sending them elsewhere because they’re unable to treat them.

Lack of fuel for generators is leaving operating rooms in the dark amid widespread blackouts.

The plight of overtaxed hospitals and smaller clinics is one of the most worrying for officials grappling with the recovery.

Dr. James Lapkoff is an emergency room doctor in Waynesville, North Carolina, who was part of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services team dispatched to Puerto Rico.

He says that whenever there’s a disaster of this degree, “people’s lives are going to be in danger.”

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