Pharmacists in Puerto Rico were challenged to adequately respond to patients’ needs after Hurricane Maria due to various structural and individual barriers, concluded an analysis by Dr. Carlos Rodríguez-Díaz, an associate professor of prevention and community health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Dr. Rodríguez-Díaz and Dr. Kyle Melin, an assistant professor at the University of Puerto Rico School of Pharmacy, worked together to reduce the negative impact of natural disasters through research and evaluation after what Puerto Rico experienced in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Dr. Rodríguez-Díaz and Dr. Melin found pharmacists could not properly respond to patients’ needs after Hurricane Maria because of medication shortages, extended loss of power on the island, and limited telecommunications for contacting prescribers, disaster relief agencies, and insurance companies.
“This put pharmacists in the difficult position of needing to dispense maintenance medications without prescriptions, authorized refills, or an emergency protocol to guide practice,” wrote Dr. Rodríguez-Díaz and Dr. Melin. “As the vast majority of community pharmacies in Puerto Rico are independent, small businesses, the necessity of dispensing much-needed medications to patients without any guarantee of reimbursement further led to significant concerns of financial survival.”