Nonprofit organization Direct Relief has awarded $1.3 million in grants to five community health centers in Puerto Rico, also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) for the purchase of medical mobile units and off-road vehicles.
With this funding, Direct Relief will have now equipped all 22 FQHC corporations and their 85 clinics throughout the island with a mobile medical unit or off-road vehicle.
This represents $6.7 million in total grant funding to extend primary care to patients living in remote parts of the island or who cannot access care on their own, the nonprofit said.
“We’re excited that this grant has been completed because Direct Relief’s commitment is to facilitate healthcare access to vulnerable populations with difficult access to health services,” said Ivonne Rodríguez-Wiewall, executive advisor for Direct Relief in Puerto Rico.
“We’re sure that these medical mobile units and off-road vehicles will have a positive impact in the continuity of primary care services to communities in remote areas,” she said.
The donations are possible as a result of contributions from pharmaceutical company AbbVie to Direct Relief. The community health centers that received funds during this round are: Prymed Medical Care, in Ciales; Community Health Foundation of PR, Inc., in Bayamón; Centro de Servicios Primarios de Salud Inc., in Florida; Hospital General de Castañer Inc., in Castañer; and Corporación de Servicios Médicos de Hatillo Inc., in Hatillo.
Vania Medina, Executive Director of Community Health Foundation, one of the recipients of this grant said, “the mobile unit will be an added service that we will be able to provide. We have services that we don’t have in the center but will have in the mobile unit such as: sampling labs, vaccinations and a dental chair, since we don’t have one on the main site.”
Dolores Morales, Executive Director of Migrant Health Center, who received in 2018 the grant to purchase their medical mobile unit and off-road vehicles explained that “these mobile units help us in case we have to mobilize services to isolated communities, and this was one of the most important factors when the earthquakes occurred. Also, it has helped us to mobilize services to marginalized populations with particular needs, for example, the homeless.”
Finally, Allan Cintrón, executive director of MedCentro, said, “we have three mobile units sponsored by Direct Relief. These are specialized units for hurricane and earthquake situations and are known as 6×6. These units were in use during the earthquakes, servicing the campsites in the mountains on the southern region of Puerto Rico.”