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Puerto Rico hurricane response gets personal: Health Story podcast


For Eddie Reyes, an RN and EMT lead instructor, Northwell Health's medical mission to help the hurricane-ravaged residents of Puerto Rico became intensely personal the moment he landed in San Juan.

It wasn't just that he grew up on the Caribbean island, but also the fact that Mr. Reyes' teammates came to the aid of family members in their moment of need – even as Puerto Ricans struggled with a collapse in basic services: no power, running water and barely passable roads. That fight to deliver, in some cases, life-saving health care is the subject the latest Northwell Health podcast: Health Story.

"This hit home as soon as we hit the ground," said an emotional Mr. Reyes.

Northwell's team of 27 nurses, physicians, medics, EMTs and other clinicians and administrators embarked on October 12 at the request of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, part of a larger medical contingent organized by the Greater New York Hospital Association. Even three weeks after Hurricane Maria struck, HIMA Hospital San Pablo in Caguas – where the Northwell team spent their 15-day deployment – ran on generator power only.

Several days into the medical mission, Mr. Reyes' aunt showed up at the hospital with a cardiac issue. "The nurses took care of her in our tent," said Mr. Reyes, choking up at the thought. He then turned to his teammates who were with him in Puerto Rico and added: "You guys did a helluva job."

Hear firsthand how their experience, cultural awareness and the bonds of family informed their ability to provide modern medical care in the wake of the natural disaster.

Listen to the podcast: To hear the episode, click here.

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About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State's largest health care provider and private employer, with 22 hospitals, over 550 outpatient facilities and nearly 15,000 affiliated physicians. We care for more than two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 63,500 employees – 15,000+ nurses and 4,000 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We're making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit

Jason Molinet
[email protected]

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