Department of Public Affairs -- 8900 Van Wyck Expressway Jamaica, New York 11418
For Immediate Release
Name: Xavia Malcolm
Jamaica Hospital Welcomes Home Puerto Rico Earthquake Response Team
On February 2nd, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made the special announcement that a delegation of bilingual mental health professionals was being deployed to Puerto Rico to provide much-needed support to residents recouping from a string of devastating earthquakes. The MediSys Health Network volunteered a team of mental health experts from Jamaica Hospital Medical Center to serve on the mental health relief mission coordinated by the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA).
Although the earthquakes which began on December 28, 2019, and continue to occur, have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage, the greatest impact of the catastrophic events is reflected in the mental health of the island’s residents. The devastation has left many people feeling hopeless and fearful. Several have been diagnosed with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“The need for mental health support on the island was overwhelming. We realized that survivors were in great need of our assistance. This prompted us to respond with urgency to serve on the mental health relief mission”, said Mark Marino, Director of Pre-Hospital Care. “We carefully assembled a team of six bilingual mental health professionals from Jamaica Hospital. They were deployed to shelters and camps in Guanica, Guayanilla and Ponce on February 3rd.” Jamaica Hospital’s mental health professionals were integrated into the work of the Puerto Rico Administration of Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services.
Each day, during their week-long mission, Jamaica Hospital’s Mental Health Response Team separated into two groups to canvass the south-west part of the island. One group led by Dr. Martha Edelman, Director Psychiatric ER, worked at camps in various locations as well as a park used as an informal school for children. The other group, led by Dr. Attilio Rizzo, Chief Social Service Psychiatry, was deployed to different neighborhoods in mountainous areas, where they conducted door- to- door canvassing and provided home visits to those in need.
The hospital’s Mental Health Disaster Response team returned to New York on Monday, February 10th. Team leaders described a great deal of destruction to homes and properties but felt that the people they encountered were very appreciative of their efforts.
“Jamaica Hospital is proud to have served on this mission and hope that by supporting the victims of the earthquakes, we were able to help them to recover from traumatic events and rebuild their lives” shared Anthony Maffia, Vice President of Psychiatry.
The MediSys Health Network has a long history of providing disaster relief to those in need. Some past relief efforts of the MediSys Health Network include:
Hurricane Andrew – Homestead, Florida, 1992
Northern Country Ice Storms – Watertown, NY, 1998
World Trade Center Attacks (9/11) – New York, NY, 2001
Hurricane Katrina –Louisiana & Mississippi, 2005
Hurricane Sandy – Far Rockaway, New York, 2012
Hurricane Maria- Puerto Rico, 2017
According to Bruce J. Flanz, President & Chief Executive Officer of the MediSys Health Network, “It has always been our mission to provide relief to those in need. Responding to disasters and exporting our talents where they can be utilized is something that we are proud to do and will continue to offer whenever it is needed.”