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The Critical Needs Of Hospitals In Puerto Rico


Hospitals in Puerto Rico are grappling with dwindling supplies, power outages and the basic challenge of keeping their patients alive. The Hospital de la Concepcion in San German, southwestern Puerto Rico, has been taking in patients from other hospitals around the island. Edgar Crespo is an administrator of the hospital and joins us now.

Mr. Crespo, thanks so much for being with us.

EDGAR CRESPO: Oh, thank you for having me here in your program.

SIMON: How many patients have you had to take in, sir?

CRESPO: We have been receiving patients from other parts of the region. We have taken close to 150 to 160 patients in our emergency department. We had a record of admitted patients around 170 or 180.

SIMON: So are you over capacity?

CRESPO: Yes, we were. One to two days after Hurricane Maria hit us, we were over capacity.

SIMON: And your hospital is over 500 years old, right?

CRESPO: Yes, that's correct. It was the first hospital in the island from the Spaniard time.

SIMON: And how are you doing?

CRESPO: We were really well-prepared. We had good emergency preparedness plans that we put in place. We produce our own electricity on site. And also it is more reliable since we don't have electrical lines, transmission lines or all of that losses that you have in a regular system from the utility grid.

SIMON: And what do you hear from other hospitals? What are their challenges?

CRESPO: Right now, a lot of hospitals are having problems with diesel fuel for their generators. Most of the hospitals are running with backup generators. You know, backup generators are not designed to run extended period of time, and that's what's happening right now. You have near - I would that more than 80 percent of the hospitals are still running their emergency backup generators since they don't have utility power yet.

SIMON: And what do you need in the future, in the next few days and weeks?

CRESPO: Right now, here in Puerto Rico, we have two companies that provide oxygen and medical gases. One of them are running out of - they are having problems. The other issue is to - that the medical supplies, like IV solutions and some medicines, like antibiotics - as the time goes on, we can run out about those types of supplies.

SIMON: So you're concerned about oxygen, which people need to breathe, and concerned about antibiotics and other medications, I guess - basics.

CRESPO: Yes. Basics, yes.

SIMON: Well, you are important to a lot of people.

Thank you very much, Mr. Crespo.

CRESPO: Thank you very much, people. Please pray for us here.

SIMON: Yes, sir.

Edgar Crespo is an administrator of the Hospital de la Concepcion in southwestern Puerto Rico. Thanks so much, sir.

CRESPO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.