A report by Raquel Reichard for Remezcla.
In Vieques, a Puerto Rican island east of the mainland, a teenage girl died of the flu, and her family is blaming the death on the government for not rebuilding the municipality’s only hospital since it was destroyed two years ago during Hurricane María.
Jaideliz Moreno Ventura, 13, died of flu-like symptoms on January 12. The teen began feeling ill days earlier. Her family took her to a hospital on the mainland on January 10, where she was tested for influenza. When the results returned negative, she and her family went back to Vieques.
There, however, the girl’s symptoms worsened. On the day of her death, she began convulsing. Without a functioning hospital, the teen’s family took her to a local clinic. However, staff at the facility did not have the resources to care for Ventura. The girl, in need of a respirator to give her oxygen, was flown to the mainland in an air ambulance. She died on the way.
“If we had more resources, she would be with us right now,” the late teen’s cousin José Ventura told NBC News. “They have forgotten about us.”
Without Vieques’ community health care center, which also held the island’s only labor and delivery room, residents have had to travel by ferry or plane to the mainland for their health matters.
Last year, Democratic lawmakers demanded an investigation into FEMA’s failure to rebuild the facility.
The family said they “don’t want Jai’s death to be in vain” and are calling for more supplies on the island.
The late teen’s mom said the people of Vieques have the right to “a dignified hospital, with medical equipment and supplies —so that no other mother will have to go through what I am dealing with now.”