National News

Doctor sends supplies, medicine to Puerto Rico

Posted September 27, 2017 12:43 p.m. EDT

— A doctor's grass roots effort to help her native Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, turned into an all hands on deck effort to get thousands of dollars' worth of supplies to the devastated country.

Dr. Marietta Vazquez put it all in motion. On Monday she was making her plea, and had some donations but didn't know how she was going to get them to Puerto Rico.

It turns out, she had much more than she ever imagined and now those medicines and supplies are on their way.

Working quickly, crews loaded up boxes and pallets packed with medicine and supplies into the back of a box truck, all wrapped up with signs saying "From Yale for Puerto Rico with love."

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Dr. Vazquez is a pediatrician at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Once she learned that her family was okay, she turned her attention to helping colleagues down on the island.

"This is really a state of emergency what's happening in Puerto Rico in some ways is way worse than Hurricane Katrina," Vazquez said.

So she started reaching out to friends in the medical profession in Connecticut.

"We have IV fluids, we have tubing, we have sterile gloves, masks, just so many supplies, the list is about 4 or 5 pages long," Vazquez said.

Then there is the much-needed medicine.

"Primarily we're sending antibiotics, that will help the children's hospitals in Puerto Rico take care of the kids there, we're also sending medications that they use for surgical procedures," said Lorraine Lee, vice president for Pharmacy Services.

Yale-New Haven Health reached out to its hospitals for supplies, and the Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford came through as well.

The generosity of so many going well beyond what Vazquez ever imagined.

"It's amazing, it really warms my heart. I've done this type of relief effort before in other countries, it's really great to do it for my country," Vazquez said.

The truck headed down to Newark Airport on Tuesday where it will be loaded onto a United Airlines flight either Wednesday or Thursday morning.

Now, Yale-New Haven Health said it's the first medical center in the U.S. to send medicine and supplies to Puerto Rico.

Those involved in the effort are asking other hospitals and universities in Connecticut and around the country to consider doing the same.