Message from Edo Banach: An Update on Puerto Rico
For Immediate Release:
January 8, 2020
Supporting Members and Non-members with Upcoming Meeting and Outreach
Following this week’s earthquake activity in Puerto Rico, I wanted to let the provider community know that the NHPCO team is reaching out to our member hospice programs to check on their status and safety of their staff. So far, I can report that our members are doing their best to continue functioning following the earthquake and aftershocks. We all should be relieved to know that we have no reports of death or serious injury among our colleagues at this time. Nevertheless, NHPCO’s Emergency Support Fund (managed by National Hospice Foundation) is available to provide
assistance to impacted programs and professionals.
Some people are surprised to learn that this U.S. territory is home to nearly 40 hospice organizations caring for those in need of interdisciplinary person-center care – several of which are valued members of NHPCO.
Puerto Rico is a special part of the United States that is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2018. Member and non-member hospice organizations were faced with many challenges before Hurricane Maria, and since the hurricane their struggles have only increased. Given this week’s natural disaster, our colleagues are facing additional difficulties.
NHPCO has worked to learn more about the hospice and palliative care community in Puerto Rico and learn ways that we can support our members and stay connected with the broader hospice and palliative care community on the island. With this in mind, we made plans about a year ago to host the January NHPCO and HAN board and select committee meetings in San Juan the week of January 20, 2020.
In this spirit, many of the attendees are participating in a day of service on Monday, January 20. Attendees will be volunteering at a local hospice, helping fight hunger through World Central Kitchen, and helping homeless pets through Amigos De Los Animales. Not only is this in recognition of Martin Luther King Day, which is marked each year as a national day of volunteerism but provides us an opportunity to interact at the community level.
In addition to the board and committee meetings, we are taking the opportunity to meet with hospice CEOs and senior directors to learn more about the challenges they face. We’ll be spending time with our current members and also meeting with as many non-members providers who are able to join us as we know there are many that can benefit from
the work of NHPCO.
Scheduled as guest speakers for our quarterly issue’s session – an important part of every board meeting – we are proud to have the former CMS Medical Officer from Region II and the former HHS Director of Region II. It is interesting to note that Medicare Advantage penetration is 90 percent in Puerto Rico, and there is limited long-term care infrastructure.
This will provide us an opportunity to gain important insights that are relevant everywhere throughout the U.S.
Our members, non-members, scheduled speakers and tourism board have all expressed much appreciation to NHPCO for our willingness to support the provider community and, indeed, the economy of Puerto Rico. Many members may be surprised to learn that the costs of airfare and hotel rooms in San Juan are cheaper than other cities in the continental U.S. that were under consideration for this meeting.
I am also pleased to report that a number of partners and vendors are supporting our efforts to increase engagement in this U.S. Territory and have stepped up to sponsor the board and committee meetings and events that will make up our visit. Never have we had such a level of financial support for a NHPCO hosted meeting.
This is an important opportunity for us to support and encourage hospice and palliative care in Puerto Rico.
Edo Banach, JD
President and CEO