Nursing Home in Southwestern Puerto Rican Town Struggles to Get Power, Keep Patients Alive

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Before Hurricane Maria struck, destroying their home and about 250 others in this southwestern coastal town, Heyda Ortiz thought she was protecting her elderly parents by bringing them to a shelter.

Eddie Ortiz and Antonia Morales, right, are living in a hotel after spending a week in a shelter in the town of Lajas, Puerto Rico in Sept. 2017. The husband and wife, both 83, lost the roof of their home in Hurricane Maria, and water destroyed everything in it.

Eddie Ortiz and Antonia Morales, right, are living in a hotel after spending a week in a shelter in the town of Lajas, Puerto Rico in Sept. 2017. The husband and wife, both 83, lost the roof of their home in Hurricane Maria, and water destroyed everything in it.

But last week, the shelter lost electricity, which her 84-year-old bedridden father, Eddie Ortiz — a U.S. Army veteran suffering from Alzheimer’s — needed to adjust his hospital bed and avoid ulcers. Another elderly man there died. A woman on a ventilator was transferred to a nursing home, but it had room for only her. The area still lacked cellphone service, so Ortiz could not call relatives for help.

“We had nowhere else to go,” said Ortiz’s mother, Antonia Morales.

After San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz made an impassioned plea for immediate, lifesaving aid, President Trump responded with a series of tweets Saturday that praised Gov. Ricardo Rossello and recovery efforts and attacked Cruz, saying she was among those who “want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”

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Luz Maria, 78, is on a respirator at the Garden of Eden convalescent home in Sept. 2017. She was at a shelter, but it lost power more than a week ago.

Luz Maria, 78, is on a respirator at the Garden of Eden convalescent home in Sept. 2017. She was at a shelter, but it lost power more than a week ago.