It’s been almost two years since Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, causing an estimated $100 billion in damage. Health care providers on the island are still seeing increased needs related to chronic conditions, particularly for diabetes. According to a recent Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 41 percent of Puerto Rico residents surveyed who have a debilitating chronic condition or who have a household member who does said their health has worsened since the Category 4 storm.
Meanwhile the issue of federal funding for rebuilding Puerto Rico continues to be a point of contention in Washington.
As a physician and as a representative of Johns Hopkins Medicine, I feel very strongly that access to quality health care is a basic human right. And so it brings me great joy to announce that Johns Hopkins has just signed a seven-year contract to collaborate with businesspeople, investors and government officials in Puerto Rico to create Dorado Beach Health, a health care facility that will raise the standard of care on the island.
We’ll be working with PRISA Group, a real estate and hospitality developer; GrupoTriple S, the largest private insurer in Puerto Rico; and Dr. Carlos Blanco, owner of Doctors’ Center Hospital System, a health care conglomerate that provides medical and surgical services across the island.
We’ll be leveraging our consulting and education expertise to develop clinical training and educational opportunities for the hospital’s medical faculty and staff. This is especially important because the hurricane exacerbated Puerto Rico’s financial and infrastructure limitations, hampering hospitals’ ability to recruit and retain staff members. Staff shortages in certain subspecialties or geographic areas mean patients sometimes wait up to nine months for specialist appointments following referrals.
Johns Hopkins will also support quality and patient care improvement efforts and clinical program enhancement at the 104-bed hospital, expected to open in 2021. Dorado Beach Health’s specialties will include primary care, emergency care, vascular surgery, orthopaedics, medical oncology, obstetrics and gynecology, urology, gastroenterology and pulmonary care.
While our consulting work almost always focuses on communities outside the United States, this project is an important extension of our mission to bring the best treatments and medical professionals to communities near and far.
It’s also very exciting to begin working on this project from the earliest of stages. The last private hospital built in Puerto Rico from the ground up opened over 15 years ago, and we have wholeheartedly embraced this challenge to imagine and deliver the state-of-the-art hospital the people of Puerto Rico deserve.