EAST STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – A doctor from the Poconos is back home after spending two weeks in Puerto Rico. There, he helped treat patients who were caught in Hurricane Maria’s aftermath.
Doctor Jonathan Goldner is well-known at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono. But this month his healing hand extended nearly 1,600 miles south.
“It’s pretty amazing how much devastation was there,” Dr. Jonathan Goldner recalls.
He’s part of the National Disaster Medical Assistance Team, which is run through the US Department of Health and Human Services. Medical staff from across the nation volunteer to be deployed during disasters.
“We are trained to set up field hospitals rather quickly,” Dr. Goldner explains.
Doctor Goldner was stationed in Humacao, where electricity was knocked out.
“So pretty much all the businesses were closed, the shelves were empty,” Dr. Goldner adds.
There was no running water, either.
“We were designed to function with generators and our own water supply,” he says.
Doctor Goldner worked in a hospital with heavy water damage, and half the roof was blown off.
Medical teams were restricted to the Emergency Room and treatment tents in the parking lot.
Dr. Goldner explains, “we were starting to see most of the things were most of the usual stuff like heart attacks, stroke, trauma, some gunshots.”
He says people were also starting to develop skin infections from contaminated water. Because pharmacies were closed, patients weren’t getting medication.
“Blood pressures through the roof, sugars 500 because they didn’t have their insulin,” he adds.
Doctor Goldner slept in a tent, barely showered, and survived eating military rations.
He says it was worthwhile.
“You really appreciate the things you have, without a doubt,” Dr. Goldner reflects.
Hurricane Maria directly hit the municipality where Doctor Goldner was stationed. He says power is not expected to be restored there for three to six months.