As a response to the struggles Puerto Rico is facing in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a group of Florida Hospital emergency physicians gathered Tuesday evening to make the final arrangements for their flight Wednesday morning out of Jacksonville.
The group of three doctors will take some supplies on this week-long exploratory trip.
After they assess the initial needs, a second group of physicians will join them next week and provide needed relief items. After the two-week exploratory period, the group will help develop a long-term response plan.
In addition to being born and raised in Puerto Rico, the physicians were also trained in Puerto Rico, and able to practice medicine in the island. After their initial visit to Hospital UPR Dr. Federico Trilla, the physicians will venture into some of the rugged parts of the island to provide needed medical efforts to small communities without health care facilities.
"We're emergency medicine physicians with training in disaster, so I don't think there's a better specialist to be helping the people of Puerto Rico right now. We're Spanish-speaking island natives, and we know the culture and geography of the island, so it's easier for us to get to those places other teams are not able to reach," said Dr. Katia Lugo, emergency care physician at Florida Hospital.