Penelope Kokkinides of InnovaCare Health Fighting for Health Care in Puerto Rico

September 16, 2017 is a day many Puerto Ricans wish they could forget. However, that day, the days following, and even the weeks and months following will likely haunt many of the residence for years to come. Hurricane Maria is widely considered one of the largest hurricanes ever recorded. It destroyed Puerto Rico, leaving much of the island under water, without power, and people without shelter, scavenging for food, resources, and supplies.


Five months later, conditions have improved for many. Roads have been cleared of debris; power outages last shorter periods of time; and many of the displaced people have found shelter. However, for the 30 percent of people living in rural areas conditions are still insufficient as they are still without power.


Inside Plazas Las Americas, the biggest shopping center, there is a business called Recargate. What was once supposed to be a temporary meeting and charging station, has turned into a clinic that is provided by InnovaCare. Puerto Ricans are able to come to the clinic and receive physicals and, if needed, referrals to receive more specialized care. InnovaCare is proud that they are able to offer Medicare y Mucho Mas (MMM) the islands largest Medicare Advantage program.


In addition to the Recargate clinic, in the weeks following the storm, InnovaCare Health set up a number of mobile clinics. More than 25,000 Puerto Rican residents have been seen by a physician, diagnosed, and prescribed medication at one of these mobile clinics. Surly these clinics have saved a number of lives.


As a United States territory, one would think that Puerto Rico would have received more immediate aid than they did; nearly a year later, people should not still be suffering the effects of hurricane Maria, yet they are. Many hospitals are still closed, making the mobile and Recargate clinics crucial to the health of residents on the island. However, funding for healthcare is lacking on the island, making it difficult for some to be seen by a physician.


The Chief Administrator Officer of InnovaCare, Penelope Kokkinides, met with President Trump to discuss the healthcare needs in Puerto Rico. Kokkinides argued that instead of decreasing funding by $1 billion per year, there needs to be an increase in funding to the Medicare Advantage program within Puerto Rico. Apparently what Kokkinides had to say struck home because in the days following the meeting, CMS gave promising modifications to the healthcare system in Puerto Rico.