While President Donald Trump is busy characterizing his administration’s response to the devastation in Puerto Rico as a “10,” doctors appear to be performing surgeries by the light of only cellphones.
On Saturday, Puerto Rico’s former governor Alejandro García Padilla, who served from 2013–2016, tweeted a photo of an operating room with doctors working in near–darkness, the theater lit by handheld cellphones. “This is what POTUS calls a 10!” García wrote.
Splinter was unable to immediately verify the authenticity of the photo, or determine its exact location.
Social media users responded to the ex–governor’s tweet with desperate pleas for power to be restored.
Just over a month after Hurrican Maria hit the island, 84% of Puerto Rico still remains without power, and 28% lacks running water, according to meteorologist Eric Holthaus.
Yet, while the humanitarian crisis continues, the president of the United States busies himself by golfing, issuing misleading statements about his administration’s emergency response, and seeking validation despite his incompetence.
Last Thursday, during a White House news conference with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, Trump called his response to the crisis a “10.” That was supposed to be 10 out of 10, but San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz had a different grade for the president, saying he rated a “10 out of a scale of 100,” which is “still a failing grade.”
Trump awkwardly pressed the governor to back up his inflated claims by asking, “Did the United States, did our government—when we came in—did we do a great job? Military, first responders, FEMA. Did we do a great job?”
On Saturday, as five former presidents came together to host an unprecedented disaster relief effort in Texas called “Deep from the Heart: One America Appeal Concert,” Trump inserted himself in the discussion once again by sending a pre–recorded video message to the crowd at Texas A&M’s Reed Arena that wildly diverged from the reality on the ground in Puerto Rico.
While the video was being uploaded to the White House’s YouTube account, Trump reportedly was golfing at his club in Virginia, his 74th day as president at a golf club.
“In the aftermath of these terrible storms, the American people have done what we do best: We came together, we helped one another, and through it all, we remained resilient,” Trump shouted in the video, reading from a teleprompter.
Despite the fact that the USNS Comfort, a massive, state–of–the–art floating hospital, has been stationed off Puerto Rico’s coast for over two weeks, many patients simply can’t access it, or the care they need, due to washed out roads, a lack of medical air transport, and an inefficient and confusing bureaucratic process governing admission to the ship.
The USNS Comfort is capable of performing surgical operations and providing post–operative care, but only 33 of 250 beds are being used. According to CNN, “Clinics that are overwhelmed with patients and staff say they don’t even know how to begin sending cases to the ship.”
The process for sending patients to the USNS Comfort, CNN says, is as follows:
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the official protocol is for patients in need to go to their nearest medical facility. If that facility is unable to provide care, a doctor there should contact the medical coordinating center in San Juan.
Someone there will then determine whether a patient needs to be transferred to a hospital on the island and which one. In some cases, a determination will be made to transfer a patient to the US Army Combat Support Hospital in Humacao, which has 44 beds and has been operational since Sunday.
According to Gov. Rosselló, the death toll in Puerto Rico, as of Friday, is 49.