Over a year after the devastation left by Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans are still recovering and rebuilding the Caribbean island. What is still urgently needed is medical supplies and health professionals. 

Since the hurricane, University of Minnesota Medical School students and health professionals have made several trips to the island to help provide aid to those affected by the storm. One such trip in August focused on citizens’ mental health issues caused by the hurricane. Research shows that 30 to 40 percent of people affected by a natural disaster will develop PTSD.

“The night we flew in, they were expecting a storm to turn into a hurricane. It dissipated, but what struck me was how everyone was reacting in a really triggered way,” says Matej Bajzer, Department of Psychiatry. “I don’t think it will ever be ‘back to normal’ for the people that went through that disaster.”

Through crowdfunding, faculty, staff, and students have raised more than $21,000 for mental health resources for those in need.

“I think we are an agent of change. They see us as people from the outside and not as a political presence,” says Miguel Fiol, Department of Neurology. “One lady even called us ‘magicians.’ I think we can have an impact.”