With impending calamities threatening and real calamities besieging so many of our neighbors, it's easy to feel your attention pulled by your heartstrings.
I know my mind has frequently been pulled to our neighbors in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico's devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria is especially heartbreaking for me and the rest of the ClickCare team. My daughter's business was honored to receive a fellowship on the island and I was lucky enough to spend a week there last year. Also, a few of our valued team members have lots of family on the island.
Of course, Puerto Rico is technically a part of the US, and Puerto Ricans are US citizens. However, the Puerto Rican government as well as the electrical plants there are bankrupt. Which means that Puerto Rico is certainly in our purview to worry about here in the US, and the problems they're facing are even worse than many similar situations on the mainland US.
The medical situation in Puerto Rico is especially dire. There is limited fuel, which is supplying generators as well as healthcare providers' cars to get back and forth to the hospital. Food and other necessities are also in short supply. Cell service, email, and internet are all mostly down.
For many, it's become necessary to fly to the US for care -- but it's very, very difficult to get a plane ticket off the island. Healthcare providers are scrambling, doing whatever they can to manage the emergency situation in which they find themselves.
In an immediate way, very basic help is needed. Food, fuel, and resources. In that context, iClickCare certainly may not be a tool that will be useful in the next several days.
But as recovery starts to coalesce, even just to the basics of cell service and fuel, telemedicine-based healthcare collaboration may well be a crucial tool (and we will do whatever we can to make it available to Puerto Rican providers). Consults with providers off the island may be helpful to providers on the island. And collaboration will certainly be necessary into the future.
But even we were surprised to hear just how important healthcare collaboration may end up being. New York University recently published reports looking at healthcare providers following Hurricane Sandy in 2012 -- and showing collaboration and communication ended up being key to long term recovery.
According to their reports, "Nurses proved extremely resourceful during the crisis, but also prone to burnout from the high level of stress involved in dealing with such a major public health event under such adverse circumstances." That is certainly to be expected. What is interesting, though, is that medical collaboration proved crucial to the long term recovery of both the system and the providers themselves after the storm. Christine T. Kovner, RN, Ph.D., a professor of geriatric nursing at NYU Meyers said, “Our research shows that maintaining good communication with peers and hospital leaders after the hurricane helped the nursing staff feel more connected and less stressed."
Our thoughts and prayers will be with Puerto Rico as they recover, and we intend to contribute in whatever ways we can. We'll be hoping for strong communication and thoughtful healthcare collaboration in the coming days as providers begin to look to the future, as well.