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Red Cross grants $500K to UPR to help older adults recover in disasters

The American Red Cross and the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus have announced a partnership to assist older adults in managing their health and preventing illness “before, during and after disasters.”

The initiative is a component of the American Red Cross’ Long-Term Recovery Program following Hurricane Fiona and will focus on the municipalities most impacted by the hurricane, the nonprofit stated.

The Medical Sciences Campus will provide specialized health education for people with chronic conditions, conduct health screening clinics, and organize vaccination campaigns for COVID-19 and influenza. Under the agreement, the campus will also hold workshops on emergency response, including distributing preparedness kits. To date, the targeted towns include Arecibo, Toa Baja, Hormigueros, Ceiba, Yabucoa, Ponce and Salinas.

“The most vulnerable population we serve during disasters are the elderly. That’s why we partnered with the Medical Sciences Campus, which has the personnel and knowledge to educate and bring direct services in preparedness and health to this population so they can manage their needs in all stages of a disaster,” said Lee Vanessa Feliciano, regional executive of the American Red Cross Puerto Rico Chapter.

The implementation of these activities will take place over one year and represents a $500,000 investment by the American Red Cross. The funds are derived from donations received during the Hurricane Fiona emergency. The recovery projects are designed to benefit populations affected by the disaster.

“The Medical Sciences Campus will provide all the necessary assistance with its excellent professional staff so that our older adults receive all the primary health services with the quality that has always distinguished us through the promotion and prevention of diseases, the management of medical conditions before, during and after natural disasters through education, training, and the use of resources,” said Dharma Vázquez, interim rector of the Medical Sciences Campus.

“It’s our duty to continue educating our seniors about the importance of getting vaccinated and maintaining consistent clinical follow-ups for medical conditions,” she added.

UPR President Luis A. Ferrao-Delgado noted, “We support this effort that empowers and prepares the older adult population and local communities to proactively manage their medications and maintain their optimal health at all times. Educating this growing population segment is our priority.”

“According to projection data from the census, older adults already make up 25.5% of the population in Puerto Rico. It is expected that by the year 2050, 39.3% of the population, or 1,448,000, will be older adults,” Ferrao-Delgado stated.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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