The Federal Emergency Management Agency has obligated nearly $5.4 million in funds for emergency measures and permanent work projects to repair hospitals and healthcare facilities managed by the Puerto Rico Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Administration, known as ASSMCA, by its Spanish acronym.
Among the 50 approved projects, $2.4 million has been assigned for eight architectural and engineering design costs projects in multiple buildings owned by the entity. These funds are the “cornerstone to resilient building,” since they incorporate key services to build stronger structures; and not simply return facilities to their pre-disaster conditions, the federal agency said.
“Concerns about the recent earthquakes, together with the health situation in the country, has highlighted the importance of services focused on mental health. These funds will allow permanent improvements to be made to the facilities where citizens receive the services they need as part of their recovery,” said Alex Amparo, Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The thousands of residents that turn to ASSMCA’s PAS Helpline for crisis counseling and referrals related to their emotional health will benefit from these grants, given that the buildings where the call center is located are among the obligated projects.
Both the organization’s headquarters in Bayamón and the General Psychiatry Hospital in Río Piedras are contracting architectural and engineering firms to evaluate and develop the necessary blueprints after receiving approvals of more than $193,000 and $674,000, respectively.
“When a major event occurs, it is of the greatest importance to be able to rely on mental and emotional support services because they are essential tools for a better recovery of our citizens,” said Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency Executive Director Ottmar Chavez.
“To the extent that the infrastructure of these kinds of services are upgraded and built stronger, it will provide a safer place to provide services in future disasters. Recovery is diverse and overarching, all areas are critical in building a stronger Puerto Rico with the collaboration of every sector,” he said.
In addition, more than $151,000 was approved for the Transitional Treatment Center and Methadone Clinic located in José de Diego Avenue in Cayey and an additional $280,000 for the Forensic Psychiatry Hospital in Barrio Machuelo in Ponce.
Both facilities provide a broad range of services to the community, such as prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services for citizens dealing with mental health conditions, addiction disorders or substance dependence.
“Without a doubt, the funds awarded by FEMA provide an opportunity to continue improving our service centers facilities, specifically the infrastructure, that were damaged by Hurricane María. At the same time, this will allow us to move forward even more in the planning we’ve put in place to improve the access and delivery of quality services in an appropriate, convenient and decent environment,” said ASSMCA Administrator, Suzanne Roig.
ASSMCA delivers comprehensive mental health services pursuant to its “vision of achieving a more mentally healthy and resilient society.”