Puerto Rican hospital without power struggles to treat patients

Dr. Carlos Mellado helps fill the generator CBS NEWS

CANÓVANAS, Puerto Rico —   President Trump on Thursday put Puerto Rico on notice, tweeting that FEMA, the U.S. military and first responders can’t stay there “forever.” That is in sharp contrast to his promises to Texas and Florida — to stand by them after they were hit by hurricanes.

More than three weeks after Puerto Rico was ravaged by Maria, most still don’t have electricity or drinking water — and many roads remain blocked. CBS News’ David Begnaud, who has reported extensively on Puerto Rico, reports from Canóvanas.

At the Canóvanas Medical Center, the power went out Thursday. Again. Patients were waiting by candlelight for medical attention.

Begnaud spoke to Dr. Carlos Mellado, who was seeing patients when CBS News arrived — and when the lights went on. Mellado said they had run out diesel.

“Yeah we have this, we have to refill it,” said Dr. Carlos Mellado.

Outside, hospital employees were trying to refuel the generator that was provided by FEMA. They had an extra barrel of diesel that they were siphoning.

Mellado jumped in to help. After spilling diesel on himself, he washed his hands and took CBS News with him to the ER.

He pointed to the pharmacy, which is run by Yolanda Guzman. Her team is dispensing medication for free, and worrying about the billing later.

A high-pitched alarm is an endless reminder that 84 percent of the island is still without power.

“I think that my frustration is the response to the federal government,” Mellado said.

But Mr. Trump is already threatening to limit federal help, even as residents struggle to find clean water amid fears floodwaters are spreading disease.

Jorge Sanyet Morales, 61, is believed to have died of Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection spread by contaminated water. It should have been easily treatable with antibiotics. On Thursday, in the mountains above Canóvanas, it looked as if the entire village came to lay him to rest.

Morales’ death is believed to be one of four deaths due to bacterial disease. Regarding Mr. Trump’s tweet that FEMA can’t stay here forever, all the people indicated no one is asking for forever, they’re just asking for more help, right now.

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