Ryder's Unlikely Heroes
Authored by Dr. Melissa Martinez-Adorno following her visit to Ryder Hospital
Puerto Rico Day Two.
Imagine a day when a storm so large hits Southern New Hampshire Medical Center that the third and fourth floor are gone. Imagine planning for that storm in an environment where there are minimal resources. If your family member is admitted to 4 East (inpatient unit at the Medical Center) and the doctor walks in your room and says “I know you aren’t better but you’ll surely die if you stay so go home and we hope we can take care of you after”. And patients that are sick are sent home because staying means certain death? Can you even imagine it? That’s Ryder days before the storm.
Now imagine it’s unlikely heroes. The kitchen staff member, Edwin (shown in dark blue), dedicated to the cafeteria and food service of this hospital for 20 or 30 years that tells his wife who has worked alongside him at the same hospital to go home--"Take our boy and go to moms. I’m staying here to make sure the elderly who have to stay, live". And then stays at the hospital for 7-days, no water, no power, making sure patients live, not knowing if his family is o.k. That same man then goes home only to see that he has lost everything. No car, no home, all his things gone. Wiped out. But he still needs to work to support his family, so he wakes up at 3 a.m. every day and runs. To work. Six miles. Works a shift and then runs home. Through downed power lines, palm trees, debris, rain or shine, back to his in laws home. Six days a week. His name is Edwin. And his story is so powerful.
Today I met Maria who weathered the storm in her home but ended up on her daughter’s loft bed with her kids and pets because the waters entered her home four feet; fish swimming in her kitchen. She came to me to ask that any help we can get her, she wants to make sure that we give it all to Edwin, because he needs it more.
The workers of this hospital came in with no resources on their day off to tell us their story. To testify as to their harrowing tales of survival. Today was hard. But it felt so good. We brought with us hope, a sense of the world not having forgotten them. Today we met resilient proud people. Proud to work for and with Ryder, but devastated by the aftermath of the storm.
Ryder is functioning at 20%. As such they’ve had to temporarily lay off hundreds of employees. Unemployment checks haven’t arrived because the system is so back logged.
The look on the faces of the pharmacists when they realized we brought them Toradol and Solumedrol, medicine they can’t get because the storm has their supplies on hold... that was priceless. Like Christmas morning. It felt like we, at SNHH not only made a tangible difference today but can continue to really help these people.
Today made me so proud to work for SNNH. There is so much more but that’s it for now. Bless you all.
Pictured below are bags of supplies and essential medicine we were fortunate to bring with us to Ryder. The first of many.