By John Lynds
With a good amount of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s staff hailing from Puerto Rico, it came as no surprise after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. Caribbean Island staffers at the health center felt powerless and wanted to find a way, anyway to help.
“We immediately had staff members asking us what we could do as an organization,” said EBNHC Vice President Steve Snyder. “We knew we were going to do something but we wanted to do it right and we wanted it to be organized.”
Knowing that fundraising and sending money to the island would not be enough EBNHC decided to work with their network of Health Centers to get the aid Puerto Ricans needed.
“We could all write a check and send money, but what are citizens there going to do with the money if there are no supplies to buy?”, said Snyder. “So we contacted the network we are a member of, the National Association of Health Centers, and began working on solutions and how to get resources to the island.”
Through the National Association of Health Centers EBNHC found that its sister health center in Puerto Rico, Salud Integral en la Montaña, was in desperate need of supplies.
“So we talked with our network, got a list of what specific resources the community down there needed and got to work,” said Snyder.
Over the course of several weeks, EBNHC gathered massive amounts of supplies and resources like drinking water, non-perishable food, disposable diapers, baby water, baby wipes, baby formula, water filters, mosquito netting, flashlights and over the counter medicines
“Our health center proudly joined others in collecting and sending vital needs to our sister health center in Puerto Rico,” said Snyder. “We were also able to charter a plane through a contact with another health center and fly the supplies down there.”
Snyder added that aside from staffers helping from Eastie, EBNHC Pediatrics Medical Director Dr. Tom Silva flew down to help with disaster recovery.
“Dr. Silva is part of a Disaster Team volunteering in Puerto Rico and helping residents with health and health related issues,” said Snyder.