The power outage was caused by Hurricane Maria, in September 2017, which inflicted significant damage to the island. Recovery wasn’t easy for anyone, but has been especially difficult for those who live with PH.
About 80 percent of the entire Puerto Rico Island is still out of power. Without electricity, PH patients can’t refrigerate life-saving medications, charge oxygen concentrators, or even make a phone call to their doctor or local pharmacy.
“This area has been devastated by not just the immediate impact of Hurricane Maria but also by near complete loss of infrastructure, including power and communications networks,” Patricia George, Team PH founder and pulmonologist, said in a press release. “Team PH wanted to take action to provide some sort of help to patients still suffering from the aftermath.”
The nonprofit organization will provide portable solar panels and battery packs to PH patients in Puerto Rico to allow them to stay in touch with their family members and loved ones, doctors, specialty pharmacy services, and important news and community resources.
Up to a day’s worth of solar energy can be stored in the external battery packs. These batteries are charged via a solar charger during the day, and then can be connected to smartphones or tablets to charge them through the night. Because the chargers and the batteries are portable, patients can travel with them if necessary.
“The local community is so excited to be able to support their PHriends in Puerto Rico — a group of volunteers and PH patients will be packing these items to be shipped to the patients of Puerto Rico … on Monday, May 21,” George said.
“We hope this small contribution of providing these products assists patients in Puerto Rico through the current power crisis, and also ensuing hurricane seasons. The simple act of charging a cell phone, which most of us take for granted, could very well be what saves a PH patient’s life in a situation like this,” she added.
In September 2017, George participated in a podcast series created and produced by phaware that was regularly featured on Pulmonary Hypertension News to bring the voices and life experiences of PH patients, family members, caregivers, healthcare specialists, and others to readers. In this episode, George talks about lung transplantation and the importance of organ donation.