Rebuilding the Children’s Hospital

The Hospital del Niño, a prolonged healthcare facility for children with disabilities that are referred by the Department of Family Services, lost its elevator, several windows and fence during Hurricane María. Fortunately, the 37 children who live at the facility and staff remained safe throughout the ordeal.

Yet, the 95- year-old institution needed to rebuild as soon as possible and turned to Unidos por Puerto Rico with a grant request. In addition to the care provided to the live-in patients, the organization also provides therapies to 3,000 children with special needs throughout Puerto Rico.

María de los Ángeles López, who has headed the organization for the past 25 years, said that as part of the process of requesting support from Unidos por Puerto Rico, she received guidance on how to draft a proposal focused on repairing the structure and mitigating future risks. “I am grateful for the recommendations they provided,” she said.  María was also very grateful of the willingness and time spent to understand the needs of the institution, which is one of a kind in Puerto Rico. The organization is the only one that can take in newborns with disabilities that need round the clock care as residents of the facility.

With mitigation in mind, María recalled that Inés Rivera, the Unidos por Puerto Rico official directly supervising the grant, advised that she should consider requesting funds for another generator that could serve as a back-up in a future emergency.  She explained that some of the in-patients rely on ventilators, so they cannot afford to be without power. Inés also recommended that the institution replace the passenger vehicle, which was at the end of its useful life, for a newer more reliable and safe transportation alternative.

“Unidos took my hand and led me through the process, emphasizing that I should enhance safety so that patient care would not be affected.”

Altogether the Sociedad Pro-Hospital del Niño, Inc., the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the hospital, received $362,747.91 from Unidos to enhance the institution’s readiness to face future catastrophes.

A little over a year and half after Hurricane Maria, the Hospital is in better shape than before the hurricane.  With funds from Unidos, the hospital has repaired the elevator, built a new fence, replaced broken windows, installed storm window protectors, set up a new backup generator and purchased a new vehicle. Tesla also provided them with solar panels and batteries.

María said they were able to generate savings from the repairs and obtained approval from Unidos to use these funds to install a larger water tank.  Currently, the facility is in the process of installing a larger water tank that can store 10, 000 to 15,000 gallons of water, the equivalent of a 10- day supply, adding to the current three- day supply that the facility has. “We really felt the support,” she said.

“The focus of our support was to provide the institution with the infrastructure needed to bolster their capacity to face future disasters and ensure the continual provision of health services to a highly vulnerable population,” said Mariely Rivera, executive director of Unidos por Puerto Rico.

For more information on the work done by the organization, you may visit https://www.hdnpuertorico.org,/ or its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hospitaldelnino/. For more information on Unidos Por Puerto Rico, visit unidosporpuertorico.com.

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