University of Rochester Medical Center is joining a community effort to collect personal items for residents of Puerto Rico who are struggling to recover from the damaging winds and rain of Hurricane Maria. Reports estimate nearly all of the 3.4 million residents are without power, have lost their homes and are in need of assistance.
Patients, visitors and staff can donate new, unopened personal care items, such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, razors, deodorant, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, diapers and detergent, through Friday, Oct. 6.
Large donation bins are located in the lobbies of Strong Memorial Hospital, Eastman Institute of Oral Health, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Flaum Atrium and Saunders Research Building Atrium. Highland Hospital also has a collection.
URMC is working closely with InterVol, a local, not-for-profit humanitarian relief organization, to transport the donations. The organization needs volunteers to sort, pack and palletize the donations. For more information, please visit the InterVol website. In addition to the personal items, the hospital is working with InterVol to send medical supplies to Puerto Rico.
Many times tragedies around the world hit home to URMC faculty and staff. Franchesca König-Toro, M.D., chief resident in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, grew up in Puerto Rico and attended medical school there before starting her residency at URMC. She has been in touch with her family, but many of her friends are still struggling to get information.
“I am at a loss for words to describe what I’m seeing and hearing from my friends and family,” she said. “The Puerto Rican people are in the midst of a catastrophe … and I have so much gratitude for everyone who has reached out to help.”