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Health Centers in Puerto Rico: Operational Status after Hurricane Maria

With devastating force, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 as a category 4 storm, wreaking havoc on the island’s residents and its infrastructure. In the aftermath of the hurricane, with power and communications disrupted, the island’s health care system is struggling to recover. Community health centers are a critical part of the health care system—20 federally funded health centers provide primary and preventive care services at 93 urban and rural sites across the island. In 2016, health centers in Puerto Rico served 352,172 patients, over one in ten residents, and provided more than 1.5 million patient visits, including over 84,000 oral health visits and over 68,000 visits for mental health and addiction services. Two months after the hurricane, these health centers are working to rebuild, but their recovery remains slow and plagued by many challenges.

Almost all health centers in Puerto Rico are open (one mobile van remains closed for repairs). However, open does not mean operating at full capacity. Nearly half (47%) of the permanent health center sites on the island remain without power or are operating with generators. Several health centers reported experiencing problems with their generators, leading to unexpected power outages, and even those with grid power face intermittent blackouts. Because of the problems with the power supply, some health centers have limited their hours of operation or have limited the services they are able to provide. Health centers also face communication barriers. One in five operating sites lacks landline and satellite communication as well as internet access. Despite these challenges and recognizing the urgent health needs in their communities, a number of health center sites said their staff are going out into the community to provide services at emergency shelters and elderly living facilities. They have also deployed mobile units to treat patients in difficult to reach areas. Based on information collected by the Asociacion de Salud Primaria de Puerto Rico, Inc. (ASPPR), the interactive map below provides a snapshot of the operational status of the 93 health center sites as of November 17, 2017.

Table 1: Puerto Rico Health Center Sites and Total Patients, 2016
 Health Center Name City Total Sites Total Patients
BARCELONETA PRIMARY HEALTH SERVICES, INC BARCELONETA 2 15,658
CAMUY HEALTH SERVICES, INC. CAMUY 1 13,336
CASTANER GENERAL HOSPITAL CASTANER 2 10,626
CENTRO DE SALUD DE LARES, INC. LARES 2 16,340
CENTRO DE SALUD FAMILIAR (PALMIERI) ARROYO 3 13,150
CENTRO DE SERVICIOS PRIMARIOS DE SALUD INC FLORIDA 1 13,877
CONCILIO DE SALUD INTEGRAL DE LOIZA, INC LOIZA 3 13,583
CONSEJO DE SALUD DE PUERTO RICO, INC. PONCE 11 40,265
CORPORACION DE SERVICIOS DE SALUD Y MEDICINA AVANZADA CIDRA 6 27,960
CORPORACION DE SERVICOS MEDICOS PRIMARIOS Y PREVENCION DE HATILLO HATILLO 7 16,505
CORPORACION SANOS CAGUAS 3 5,713
COSTA SALUD COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS INC RINCON 2 12,454
HPM FOUNDATION, INC. SAN JUAN 5 14,540
MIGRANT HEALTH CENTER, WESTERN REGION, INC MAYAGUEZ 12 23,985
MOROVIS COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER, INC. MOROVIS 1 13,083
MUNICIPALITY OF SAN JUAN SAN JUAN 4 947
NEOMED CENTER INC GURABO 7 34,545
PATILLAS COMMUNITY GOVERNING BOARD PATILLAS 4 19,064
PRYMED MEDICAL CARE, INC. CIALES 2 14,432
SALUD INTEGRAL EN LA MONTANA, INC. NARANJITO 8 32,109
Total   86 352,172
Source: Bureau of Primary Health Care, Health Resources and Services Administration, Puerto Rico 2016 Health Center Profile.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.