When Penelope Kokkinides sat down with President Trump to discuss the harsh realities thousands of citizens are still facing after five months since Hurricane Maria, no one knew what the outcome would be.
Yes, it has been nearly half a year. And much work has been done in that time to remake the island into what it once was before the natural disaster of Maria swept through and redesigned the format of how the country looks. Water now resides in lakes and rivers and streams, no longer flooding the roadways of towns and lawns of what use to be green plush front yards of homeowners. Plumbing and electricity are back up and running. Hundreds of thousands of people that went without housing, at least now have a secure shelter to call their home. With all of these major improvements, three out of ten people on the island are still suffering from the impoverished lifestyle they were forced to live after the effects of Hurricane Maria.
Food, shelter, and transportation are some of the very first things that come to mind when people think about what these residents are lacking and needing. But what about medical? Dozens of clinics were forced to shut down, if not torn down by Maria. Residents are in desperate need of getting seen, diagnosed and treated by medical professionals.
InnovaCare Health manages healthcare services and is the largest provider of healthcare in Puerto Rico. They are funded by federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid. On the island, the healthcare provider diagnoses patients treats them, gives out prescriptions and works to establish a better health regimen and more stable lifestyle for those directly influenced by the hurricane. The healthcare company’s chief administrative officer Penelope Kokkinides saw a problem and went to President Trump about it. Funding for medical relief in Puerto Rico has been cut every year. On average, one billion dollars gets cut from the budget every year. In her meeting with the president, she mentioned this unequal budget cut, especially when compared to the amount of medical funding the contiguous states receive. She also mentioned how important women were in helping meet the needs of Puerto Rico’s residents. Women made up nurses, doctors and pharmacists working in the many mobile clinics treating patients all over the island.