FEMA approves $5.6 million for Puerto Rico Health Department
For repairing facilities across the island
SAN JUAN — Some $5.6 million was approved for the Puerto Rico Department of Health by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) repairing health facilities throughout the island. The improvement plans range from diagnostic and treatment centers to laboratories and public health units in six municipalities.
FEMA works with the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) through the agency’s Public Assistance program to obligate recovery funds to private nonprofit organizations, municipalities and agencies of the Government of Puerto Rico.
The new funding adds to the total of about $8 million the agency has awarded for the Department of Health to date for 14 permanent repair projects.
“With these funding obligations we contribute to the rehabilitation of various facilities of Puerto Rico’s public health system around the island to facilitate the accessibility of these essential services to all citizens,” said the Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, José Baquero Tirado.
Among the recent obligations, is a $1.2 million grant for the Mayagüez Pediatric Center, which has an epidemiology office. The facility also houses other offices that provide services such as the WIC Program, the Demographic Registry, the Biosecurity Office, and the Emergency Management Office, among others. The improvements include mitigation measures to reinforce the windows, doors and roof of the building to prevent similar damage in future disasters, FEMA said in its news release.
“This federal assistance will give us the opportunity to improve the facilities of the Mayagüez Pediatric Center and keep the operations in optimal conditions to offer the quality of service that each patient deserves. The health of residents is our priority and a right that we have to respect,” Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano was quoted as saying.
The Health Department’s hygiene laboratory in Arecibo, located in a historic building built in 1938, was awarded nearly $25,000. These funds are destined for repairs to its bacteriological and chemical labs, among other work.
Funds were obligated for other health institutions to repair their facilities and mitigate risks. Among these are Adjuntas’ Diagnostic and Treatment Center (CDT by its Spanish initials), with about $2.5 million; as well as the Transitional Service Centers in Cayey and Ponce, with about $800,000 and $67,000 respectively.
“Our public health facilities in various sectors will benefit greatly from this assignment, at a time when we are confirming the relevance of the services they offer. We thank the healthcare workers for their great support in these times and hope that this assignment fulfills the essential purpose of serving our citizens,” COR3 Executive Director Ottmar Chávez said.
To date, FEMA has obligated nearly $19.4 billion for costs related to hurricanes Irma and María, including projects to help rebuild infrastructure throughout Puerto Rico.