PR is losing a Dr a day

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 4:27 PM

Justin Maldonado learned that fact in the most tragic way possible. His uncle had a stroke in the summer of two thousand fourteen. The family rushed him to a local hospital in Coamo.

PR is losing a Dr a day

PR is losing a Dr a day.

Justin Maldonado learned that fact in the most tragic way possible.

His uncle had a stroke in the summer of two thousand fourteen. The family rushed him to a local hospital in Coamo. The emergency room doctors recommended that his uncle be taken immediately to a neurologist.

Then the Maldonado family was told only two neurologists were on duty for an all island of 3.5 million people. It was a holiday weekend.

His uncle died several days later.

"Don't obtain damage in Puerto Rico, particularly on a holiday or a Sunday," says Maldonado. Occasionally, he drives by the hospital where his uncle died. There are always people waiting. The family has taken to calling the lines "the walking dead."

Related: PR has become 'deceased dog island'

In two thousand-fourteenth, three hundred sixty-four doctors left the island never to return, the Puerto Rican Surgeons and Physicians Organization says. Latest year, five hundred doctors packed up. Most moved for more profitable positions in the mainland U. S.

The island is in a financial crisis of its own -- it doesn't have sufficient money to pay back over $70 billion in debt. On Wednesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources is holding another hearing to define what to do. There'south been a lot of attention on whether to allow PR to declare bankruptcy (or something love it).

But the deeper problem is that the island has been in an economic crisis for a decade. That'south why doctors -- and other professionals -- are fleeing. PR has lost over ten percent of its pop in the past decade. Jobs just aren't there and residence values are plummeting.

On top of that, Medicare reimburses doctors distant less in PR than other states.

Related: I've lost over $200.000 on Puerto Rican bonds

"I've a tough time recruiting. We can't compete with institutions in the U. S.," says Dr. Fernando Luis Joglar. He'south a vascular surgeon and president of the American College of Surgeons PR Chapter.

He gets offers all the time from hospitals in the mainland United States. Many arrive via letter or postcard. His wife leaves them out on the kitchen table for him to look when he arrives home.

She doesn't even have to declare it out loud, why are they still in Puerto Rico?

For Dr. Joglar, it'south because his family is there and he worries what'll happen if he leaves. His specialty is a lot love neurology. There are only a handful of vascular surgeons left who work on veins and arteries. If he goes, he believes corpses will pile up.

"The recession is getting worse. It'south effecting private hospitals. They're closing," says Dr. Joglar.

Related: PR might SLICE its minimum wage

Congress has promised to get some sort of action to aid the island in its time of crisis, likely before a enormous debt payment is due to creditors in July. There'south a thrust to give PR more federal Medicare and Medicaid funding in the final bill. But the initial "discussion draft" legislation didn't comprise any extra health care money.

Gov Alejandro GarcĂ­a Padilla has gone as distant as to declare a "humanitarian crisis" on the island. His office notes that PR "receives less than half the federal healthcare funding of any of the fifty states." The Zika virus outbreak has only stressed the island'south medical system further.

"If they don't stop the bleeding now, this is going to obtain super unpleasant by the finish of the year," says Maldonado. He'south trying to convince his 80-year-old mother to move back to NY City with him.

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