They denounce the exodus of nurses from Puerto Rico to the US | News

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Puerto Rican nurses denounced this Tuesday that the working conditions they face, with double shifts, patient overloads and other problems, often force them to look for work opportunities outside the island, which worsens the existing health crisis in said territory. of the United States (USA).


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Professionals in this specialty who participated in a recruitment event organized by the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Florida, pointed out that nurses have been seen with up to 15 patients in a shift and questioned that local health authorities have not yet established limits for this issue. , which causes overload and work stress.

They noted that in continental territory a limit was set in that sense, regulated by the organization The Joint Commission.

They added that a significant number of them do not have the benefit of a medical plan and have to wait months to receive it, when they should have priority because they are health personnel. They warned that in the US they are offered higher salaries, a medical plan and more benefits.

Nurse Leilanie Quiñones, with a master's degree in Nursing Education, told local media that she earns little and has looked for other jobs to increase her income, but they respond that they cannot accept her because she is overqualified.

He considered that in the US "recruiters look for Puerto Rican nurses because we work in everything, despite the little salary they give us."

In statements to a local media, the president of the College of Nursing Professionals of Puerto Rico, Susan Figueroa, assessed that the exodus of professionals to the United States has been occurring for 20 years and was exacerbated by Covid-19. At the end of 2020, the then president of this union, Ana Cristina García, denounced the dismissal of nearly 250 nurses during the pandemic.

This Wednesday, students from the Medical Sciences campus of the University of Puerto Rico began an indefinite strike so that Dr. Ilka Ríos Reyes resigns from her position as rector. Students and members of the campus consider that Ríos Reyes should not have been appointed again for that responsibility, after she was replaced in 2022 due to alleged abuses of power and corruption (she improperly intervened in the academic evaluation of a student).

Medical student and spokesperson Julianie de La Cruz pointed out that the strike was the only alternative due to the lack of responses from the university authorities and made it clear that it will not affect the clinical services offered to patients.

A structural problem

In the opinion of the former president of the Puerto Rico Infectious Diseases Society, Dr. Lemuel Martínez, the island's health system is very fragmented and its services are largely privatized.

He considered that since they depend on private clinics, with limited resources and budgets, they cannot respond to public health emergencies such as Covid-19.

In the opinion of the analyst from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Javier Balmaceda, the health crisis is also linked to a deficit in the funds granted by the US Congress to the Union territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa).

The expert believed that more money is given to the states and with this small territories, like Puerto Rico, are forced to provide more of their own financing, which is already insufficient, to cover health services. This causes precariousness and frequent and severe cuts.

According to the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI), "the deteriorated and fragmented health system (...) represents a risk to the life and health of Puerto Ricans, which has been demonstrated in recent years during emergencies. of Hurricane María, the earthquakes and now with the Covid-19 pandemic.

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