[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) called on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long to take all action necessary to ensure that medical oxygen is available to patients and providers in Puerto Rico who require it. As Puerto Rico continues to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria – and access to reliable medical care remains limited – the Senators urged Administrator Long to make a steady supply of medical oxygen a top priority.
“We demand immediate action to ensure the needs of all residents who rely on medical oxygen are met,” the Senators wrote. “This must be a top priority, as lives depend on your ensuring oxygen is available.”
The full text of the letter is available here and copied below.
Dear Administrator Long:
We write with growing concerns about FEMA's ability to ensure the availability of vital health supplies on the island of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, especially medical oxygen. It is imperative that your agency take all action necessary to avoid preventable death and illness caused by lack of oxygen and ensure there is a steady supply sufficient to address the health needs of any residents dependent on medical oxygen.
We have heard alarming reports about the difficulties that American companies are facing in supplying Puerto Rico with medical oxygen. One company in our states is a major supplier of medical oxygen to the island and has informed us that its Puerto Rican partners are running dangerously low in supply. The company is desperate to ship more product – especially oxygen – to the island considering the dire situation patients and hospitals are facing. So far, however, we understand that FEMA has failed to prioritize the shipment of oxygen. These concerns coincide with reports from national media that highlight growing gaps in the supply of medical oxygen throughout Puerto Rico. One story in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal describes patients in Puerto Rico rationing their oxygen supply, stretching it beyond reasonable limits, victims to a “spotty” supply throughout the island. It is inexcusable if FEMA allows this situation to persist.
We demand immediate action to ensure the needs of all residents who rely on medical oxygen are met. This must be a top priority, as lives depend on your ensuring oxygen is available.