N.H. health workers lend hand

The Telegraph - Local Commentary - Michael Rose, President and CEO of Southern New Hampshire Health System

When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico in September, our staff from both Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and Foundation Medical Partners, many of whom are proud natives, feared for the well-being of families and communities across the island.

The reports in the aftermath of the storm were utterly devastating. For our staff with loved ones in Puerto Rico, the news was grim. Harrowing stories of survival and loss were emerging days and weeks after the storm passed. Elderly parents being treated for breathing problems and heart disease, unable to get medication, the loss of young relatives to preventable death, infections and disease from contaminated water and suicides of EMT and family members unable to cope any longer with the seemingly endless death and destruction they faced.

As fellow staff witnessed the unimaginable emotional toll on colleagues, true professionals who came to work every day while fearing the worst for their loved ones, others in our provider community tried to reach out to see what they could do.

After weeks of outreach to different relief organizations, Dr. Sean Fitzpatrick, a nephrologist determined to get portable dialysis machines to the island, and Dr. Melissa Martinez-Adorno, OB-GYN, whose family extends through many communities of Puerto Rico, were able to make contact with the medical director and another clinician from Ryder Hospital in Humacao, Puerto Rico.

Ryder Hospital suffered extreme damage, as its fifth floor roof was ripped off in Category 5 hurricane-force winds. Torrential rains and flooding destroyed the cardiac unit, cancer center, maternity unit and NICU as well as their dialysis unit and general medical surgical services. The emergency room and acute medical services mobilized with tents on the hospital grounds, powered by generators, as critically ill inpatients were transferred out.

As healthcare providers, it’s simply unimaginable to contemplate the consequences for a community suddenly without a fully functioning hospital, especially those fighting cancer, heart disease and other life-threatening chronic conditions. And yet we know that our staff, like those of Ryder, would be determined to work in whatever conditions necessary to care for patients, regardless of personal loss.

Because we are comprised of a rich diversity of heritage, united by compassion and a sense of responsibility to help those in need, Southern New Hampshire Health has “adopted” the Ryder Hospital community. Their community is an extension of our own. In addition to raising funds, we are assembling shipments of needed medical supplies and equipment that are otherwise unattainable due to the infrastructure challenges faced even months after the hurricane.

We invite those who share our passion and determination to help a community faced with the reality of limited access to clean water, antibiotics, medications and life-saving care.

Southern New Hampshire Health has pledged to match $25,000, and our employees have already contributed nearly $10,000 to support the Ryder community, but their needs are far greater. If you would like to give, please know that 100 percent of every dollar raised will go directly to benefit Ryder Hospital and its employees. Please visit www.SupportRyder.org to learn more or to make a donation.

Michael Rose is president and CEO of Southern New Hampshire Health System.

Posted: 12/11/2017 by The Nashua Telegraph