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Disaster Efforts Bring Dialysis Relief To Puerto Rico

Dr. Carlos Rivera, medical director of the Renal Center of San Sebastian, meets with Ruby Harford (center), president of Atlantis Health Care Group - Puerto Rico and Cmdr. Todd Johnson of the United States Public Health Service to analyze the center's needs October 16, 2017 in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico. The Department of Health and Human Services, FEMA, and other government agencies have been doing their part to support life sustaining efforts after Hurricane Maria by providing resources to dialysis centers across the island and monitoring their needs.

At Atlantis Health Care Group, staff who needed accommodation could bunk at the clinics or stay in lodgings nearby and then carpool to the clinics to save on gas. In addition, play rooms were set up for the children of employees who stayed with their parents as they worked in the clinic, and food and snacks were provided for all.  “We created what we call ‘wraparound services’ so that the staff would be able to stay in the facilities and provide treatment for patients the next day,” said Ruby Harford, RN, PhD, chief executive officer and president of Atlantis Health Care Group.  Atlantis has 17 dialysis units across the island.  The company is run by physicians and nurses, and medical directors are well trained in the operations side of the business, which is invaluable when it comes to disasters, Dr. Harford told Medscape Medical News.  To get around the diesel shortage, workers drained the boat of one of the medical directors and distributed 100 gallons of fuel to staff so they could get to work, she reported.  In addition, Atlantis biomed technicians drove to diesel distribution centers themselves and filled pick-up trucks with barrels of fuel so they could deliver it to Atlantis clinics on a daily basis.  But “when the rain came, there would be more flooding, and when there was more flooding, trucks would get to the clinics late,” Dr. Harford pointed out.  Medical directors at the clinics had to offer dialysis “blind” because none of the local laboratories were open.  “This meant that we managed patients ‘old school’ by assessing symptoms,” she told Medscape Medical News.

Article from Medscape Medical News:

Dr. Ruby Harford earned her MSN (Leadership/Administration track) and BSN from Mount Saint Mary’s University.  She teaches Healthcare Policy and Introduction to Graduate Studies in the Mount’s MSN program.

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