Care for Caregivers

My sister and I grew up in Puerto Rico.  It will always be home for us. 

Hurricane Maria has devastated the island. The conditions are nothing short of apocalyptic. 3.4 million U.S. citizens have no electricity.   About half of them do not have running water.   Food and gasoline are in short supply.  The streets are flooded and sewage water is flowing into the ocean and streets. People are dying in hospitals because of the lack of resources.  Everyone on the island is at risk in what the island's governor, Ricardo Rossello, has called "a humanitarian crisis."

Among those 3.4 million citizens are our parents, Charlie and Bettye.  They could have left before the storm, and they could have left after.

But our father owns and operates Caregivers de Puerto Rico, a company that provides in-home health care services to the elderly, the sick and the disabled.  The company employs over 200 caregivers all over the island who tend to their ill and clients patiently and lovingly.   

In a testament to the character of all Puerto Ricans, the caregivers have refused to leave their clients.  So our father has refused to leave them.  Together, they continue to operate Caregivers de Puerto Rico under unimaginable conditions.

Many of the caregivers lost everything in the hurricane, and barely have any resources themselves.  Yet they remain dedicated to the health and care of their clients. 

Caregivers de Puerto Rico is doing all that it can for its caregivers, and has been processing and providing payroll for its caregivers without electronic support, and has been giving counseling and administrative guidance.  Unfortunately, the caregivers need more than one company can provide under these circumstances.  And so we humbly ask for your donations.  All of the money donated will be withdrawn as contributions reach $5,000, and will be delivered directly to the caregivers through the business.  Anything you can give will help these brave men and women so they can continue to provide the assistance and care that their clients need.     

Caregivers de Puerto Rico was founded in 2000 and provide home healthcare services to over 5,000 clients throughout the island.  It has been selected as supplier for the United States Federal Contractors and is a certified servicer of veterans through the Veterans Administration.

Here are just some of the caregivers' stories, among many, many other others:

Gladys:  She is a very active 71-year-old caregiver who has taken care of 91-year-old Doña Ida for the past 5 years.  Hurricane Maria destroyed the first floor of Gladys's home.  When questioned about her devastation, she said – with a smile – “Ah, I have everything I need on the second floor so I will think about the first floor later.  Meanwhile, I must take care of Doña Ida.”  Gladys desperately needed to pick up her paycheck on Friday after the storm on Wednesday, September 20, but she didn’t want to leave Doña Ida.  So, she drove 2 hours each way and brought Doña Ida with her.  They listened to the one radio station operational for the whole island during the trip, and had "a good time."

Hiram:  He is a registered nurse who has been providing services to the same family for 4 years.   The family's apartment was not badly damaged, and he is able to continue caring for them.  But Hiram's home and the homes of his parents and of his sister have been destroyed by the floods.  According to Hiram "I am desperately looking to be able to apply for FEMA funds, but with no communication, it is very difficult to even find out how to obtain paperwork and applications.  Caregivers de Puerto Rico has helped me find where I should apply. However, nothing has come through, and I am concerned to rely on it ever happening. Rebuilding, providing for my family and working has put enormous stress on almost all of us. I believe it is like PTSD – as we have been through, and are still going through, so many traumatic events.  Life before September 20 is nothing like life after September 20."

Rosa:   She is studying to be a licensed practical nurse (LPN), and works as a caregiver to support her two young children.  According to Rosa: “The storm took my whole house.  There is nothing standing or left for me to even salvage.  My 2 children and I are luckily staying with wonderful friends, but I have to walk to provide services as a Caregiver.  I feel a great obligation to provide services.  Walking 3 miles to get to my client's house each way in the heat is difficult, but I must both support my children and provide the care he desperately needs.  The pictures of the devastation really need to be seen to be believed.  I am happy to have work, but have no idea how I can manage to restore my life, send my kids to school, and continue my education to become a LPN." 

Thank you,

Ashley Mercado (Providence, RI) and Reed Mercado (Los Angeles, CA)

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Reed Mercado 
Los Angeles, CA
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