The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust in New York City has announced grants totaling $1.3 million to the Solar Foundation and Direct Relief to help ensure access to health care for communities in Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Maria.
Since the hurricane struck Puerto Rico in September, the island's electrical grid has been operating at seriously diminished capacity, which in turn has significantly affected the ability of healthcare centers and hospitals on the island to provide needed care. The grants will be used to ensure that healthcare centers in remote, underserved communities can provide essential services during power outages and to prepare for future disasters.
The grant to the Solar Foundation will support its Solar Saves Lives initiative, which has partnered with large humanitarian relief organizations to install solar and battery storage equipment on healthcare centers across the island. In partnership with the Puerto Rico Primary Care Association Network, SSL has identified several dozen priority health clinics for solarization, with the funding from the trust paying for six of them. Direct Relief will use its grant to focus on health center infrastructure, supporting repairs and maintenance to temperature-controlled storage so as to ensure continued access to life-saving medicines. Where practical, Direct Relief also will connect newly installed refrigeration units with solar power outlets to ensure continued cooling of temperature-sensitive medicines during power outages.
"Months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico's lack of power has meant a lack of life-saving medical care. These grants are critical to building health infrastructure that can last," said Helmsley Charitable Trust CEO Stephanie Cuskley. "The Solar Foundation and Direct Relief share Helmsley's commitment to supporting Puerto Rico's recovery and resilience to ensure continued access to health care for those who need it the most."