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FEMA provides $43.5M for storm-damaged health center in Vieques, Puerto Rico

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell recently attended the groundbreaking ceremony for new health facilities for the island-municipality of Vieques, Puerto Rico.

Vieques residents will soon see the reconstruction of the Susana Centeno Diagnostic and Treatment Center (CDT, in Spanish), to which FEMA allocated nearly $43.5 million for repairs from Hurricane Maria damage. This is the largest amount of funds the agency has awarded at a municipal level as part of Puerto Rico’s recovery from the historic 2017 storm. 

FEMA also allocated nearly $4.2 million to the Puerto Rico Health Department for the temporary medical facilities currently operating in Vieques until the permanent facilities are completed. 

The funds enabled the temporary relocation of the CDT, medical trailers for clinical exams, obstetrics-gynecology and dentistry services, an Odulair dialysis trailer, and an emergency generator for the facilities.

“We understand how important this health care facility is to every single resident of Vieques and we have worked closely with the government of Puerto Rico to make sure residents have the facility they need and deserve,” Criswell said. “Today, we see the results of our partnership as we take this important step in the island’s recovery.”

Six years after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has more than $31.3 billion in FEMA allocations for nearly 10,900 projects that will advance the recovery. Of these, 21 projects are for the recovery of Vieques, totaling more than $62.2 million.

Pastor and community leader Urayoán Silva-Rivera believes the health center is the most important resource for the Vieques community, as it creates a greater sense of safety by eliminating the need to travel to the main island for emergencies.

He explained that by 4 p.m., his family limits activities that may involve risk “when in the park, on the bike, in the places we go to, because we know that there is no hospital at night.”

Silva-Rivera also noted that once the health center’s infrastructure is in place, the third sector can help coordinate medical personnel transfers to the municipality and provide health clinics.

The new center will employ 54 people, including 16 health professionals. The facilities will include pediatric and adult emergency rooms, as well as dialysis, laboratory and infusion services.

The new structure will comply with current design codes and regulations for medical facilities and will be built to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification.

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