Puerto Rico gov’t disburses $108.9 million in Cares Act funding to private hospitals
SAN JUAN – Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced announced Thursday the distribution of $108.9 million to private hospitals in Puerto Rico affected by the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, in funding included in the strategic plan for federal Coronavirus Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act disbursements.
“This multimillion-dollar distribution of funds, which began the first week of June, represents an important advancement in the response to the emergency caused by Covid-19,” the governor said in a statement. “Our administration will continue working strongly to continue the disbursement of the rest of these funds directed at the hospital sector so they may continue to protect the public health and lives of our people.”
Last month, Vázquez signed an executive order that adopted the “Strategic Plan for Disbursement” of the $2.2 billion allocated to the government of Puerto Rico by the Coronavirus Relief Fund created by the federal government through the Cares Act. This allocation included $150 million in emergency assistance to private hospitals for expenses related to the lockdown measures to control the spread of the potentially deadly virus.
While local hospitals have avoided the rush of Covid-19 patients that has overwhelmed several hot spots in the states, hospital owners on the island have claimed that they have lost millions of dollars due to a decline in patient visits and treatments for other conditions due to the fear of contagion.
The aid includes grants and short-term loans that are being assigned to the island’s 51 private hospitals.
The governor said that the first aid disbursement of $18.8 million went to the Turabo Medical Center hospital system, now known as the HIMA San Pablo system of hospitals, which include facilities in Caguas, Cupey, Fajardo, Bayamón and Humacao. Vázquez visited Thursday the HIMA hospital in Caguas, where she said that her administration would continue to process the authorization and disbursement of the aid so that island hospitals operate “optimally and securely.”
After expressing his appreciation to the governor for the aid, Armando Rodríguez, president and CEO of the HIMA-San Pablo Group, said the funding “comes at a critical moment for private hospitals in Puerto Rico.”
“Your efforts were essential to get this relief that is so necessary, demonstrating, once again, your unwavering commitment to the health of the people of Puerto Rico,” he said in his address. “We will continue to work hard to keep offering the excellent hospital services that characterize us to the citizens.”
The governor also visited Aibonito’s Menonita Hospital, which received $2.1 million of the $14.7 million allotted to the Menonita hospital system, which includes facilities in Cayey, Caguas, Guayama and Humacao.
Menonita Health System Executive Director Ricardo Hernández Rivera said that the aid will keep its hospitals “stable” and “always ready to address the needs of our community.” He also called on patients to resume their treatments for various health conditions.
“Rest assured that our hospitals have the strict protocols to reinforce the safety of employees, faculty and patients,” he said.
As of Thursday, the government of Puerto Rico had disbursed over $556 million in federal Cares Act funding included in its strategic plan, the governor said in her press release.