The dead are at the hospital morgues, which are at capacity and in remote places where the government has yet to go. In many cases, families are unaware of the deaths. The government’s Demographic Registry is responsible for certifying deaths so bodies can be removed by funeral homes, many of which are not operating because of lack of resources. The agency began to certify some of the dead Monday, Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez-Mercado confirmed in an interview.
The scenario is grim.Hospitals that had to close their doors after the storm have more than 4,000 beds. Asked what happened to those patients, where they were transferred, the health secretary responded with a sincere, “I don’t know.”
Among those at risk are people such as Pedro Fontánez, 79, who is bedridden at the Pavía Hospital in Santurce in San Juan and was due to be released even though he lacks electricity at home to support the oxygen and gastric tube-feeding he needs to keep him alive. His daughter, Nilka Fontánez, went to the government’s Emergency Operations Center desperately seeking help, but was told they were not accepting patients. “There’s no information,” said a frustrated Fontánez.