AAFP members help Puerto Rico colleagues

Photo: A shipment being collected in Puerto Rico, including by well known leader Marina Alemnas (second from right)

Kim Yu MD (pictured at right talking to colleagues top left) from the USA, is one amazing colleague.

In just one week after the recent hurricane devastated Puerto Rico, Kim took to Facebook and drove a fundraising effort to help her collegues in Puerto Rico, raising over $62,000 from all the chapters of the American Academy of Family Physicians in just over one week, bought 50 generators and have helped collect relief from private planes and distribute aid to over 95 locations, shelters, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, convents, foster homes and more! Kim is currently living in Orange County, California, USA although she grew up and trained in the UK. She is the Director for Quality and Performance for the Ambulatory and Urgent Care Division of CEP America, overseeing 22 Urgent Care sites around the country. Here’s the story of this fantastic effort.

Harvey, Irma, Maria.
Three hurricanes that wreaked havoc from Texas, Florida to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and several more islands in the Caribbean. Many in our WONCA family have been affected by these powerful, devastating hurricanes.

It has been over six weeks now, and while some are beginning to get back to some sense of normalcy, many in Puerto Rico are still without access to electricity and safe drinking water. The stories that one reads and hears from friends are heart breaking, from elderly suffering in 90 degree weather with no food or water, no air conditioning and no respite in sight, to families drinking and bathing in streams where some contract leptospirosis to physicians working by flashlight in crowded ERs, complete pitch darkness surrounding them.

I have had the privilege and honor to know many family physicians of the Puerto Rico Academy of Family Physicians for decades through the AAFP and WONCA, and many are friends whom I dearly treasure. I have even visited Puerto Rico several times and fell in love with beautiful El Yunque rain forest, bioluminescent bay, and the beaches. So as Maria approached and made landfall, I reached out to several of my friends, including Marina Almenas, Jorge Meaux, Sonia Ortiz-Flores and Luis Perez Toro, to find out how my Family Medicine family were and to ask if there was anything I could do.

“Power, we need power!” was what I heard; thankfully all were safe, but many were without power, and could not open their clinics. So, I took to Facebook, and asked my friends on social media if they would consider helping buy generators for physicians in Puerto Rico.

Within 24 hrs the chapter Executive from the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians, Missy Lewis, contacted me and offered to host the donation page and within three days we had raised enough to buy 51 generators for Family Physicians in Puerto Rico!

Many chapters of the AAFP donated as did friends and family from around the USA. But there was, and still is so much more to do! The PR chapter worked incredibly hard to locate physicians around the island, no small feat given the lack of phone services and communication especially in areas of devastation where roads were impassable. We even flew one generator in from Texas, via BREAC225.org, and working with a grassroots network of physicians around the country sent over 35 planes worth of medicine, supplies, food and water to the island, where physicians in Puerto Rico would go to the airport, straight to these planes, to pick up the many boxes, load them into cars and distribute around the island. They have since made over 200 deliveries to clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, physicians, convents, orphanages and more, sometimes going door to door to provide water, bringing much needed hope and medical care directly where needed.

Photo: the sign of gratitude - Dr Jose Muniz back in his clinic!

The fifty one generators were distributed around the island to physicians with the first one being given to the PR AFP headquarters so they could serve as a home base and much needed operations center. With other organizations, like MedicosPorPR, Doctoras Boricuas, GrassrootsMedRelief, Residency programs and more, the Puerto Rico Academy of Family Physicians has been tireless in their relief efforts and we continue to raise funds for more generators, phones, supplies and water filters.

It is likely there will be continued power problems for months to come. Thanks to the American Medical Association Foundation we have money to buy some generators for physicians of all specialties, not only family physicians, however prices are sky rocketing and we have many more requests than we have funding. We would also like to help the Virgin Islands and to consider more sustainable efforts in disaster relief.

Please do consider making a tax deductible donation to http://in-afp.org/give so we can get physicians back to taking care of their patients in their offices. Thank you for sharing the caring heart and soul that exemplifies who we are as Family Physicians. #WeAreFamily #WeAreFamilyMedicine #InspireCreateLead

Donate now