CEO answers hurricane-hit Puerto Rico nursing home's call for help with plane full of supplies

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The Brighter Side
The Brighter Side

Last month an employee of a Puerto Rico nursing home appeared in an ABC News interview with a desperate request for anyone who was watching: Don't let our residents die.

The nursing home in San Juan, which was devastated following Hurricane Maria, didn't have electricity and was quickly running out of food and fuel for its generator. Employee Maria Ortiz eventually resorted to collecting water from a creek behind the facility and a nearby well.

“I want the world to know there's a lot of old people here in Puerto Rico [and] that they need help,” Ortiz told ABC's Rob Marciano. “We can't let them die. And we need all the help we can get.”

While none of the facility's residents were suffering in the storm's aftermath, Ortiz said she was worried. She said she wanted to “get help now, before something happens.”

The report caught the eye of Eyal Lalo, Florida-based CEO of watch company Invicta Watch Group. He tweeted to Marciano that “Invicta wants to help” and “can offer our corporate jet to fly in supplies. Let me know.”

Lalo followed through with a plane full of $15,000 worth of supplies such as batteries, Advil, nutrition bars and incontinence briefs, ABC reported on Friday. Lalo was also able to meet Ortiz last week, who invited him back to the facility when everything was “under control again” because “we're going to give more and more thanks to all of you.”

“I always had faith in God, and I said I know these people are going to help me,” Ortiz said.

As of Sunday electricity had only returned to 5% of Puerto Rico after the September hurricane. Just 41% of the island is believed to have potable water, and 36% of residents have phone service, according to an update posted this weekend. FEMA officials have expanded food and water deliveries across the island, noting that many people in isolated areas may still be without essentials.

Do you know of a brighter, lighter long-term care news item that is suitable for The Brighter Side? Email Staff Writer Emily Mongan at emily.mongan@mcknights.com.