Despite the fact that telemedicine and telerehabilitation have been the best allies to give continuity to the services of people with functional diversity and health conditions, the SER organization of Puerto Rico has already opened its doors to give continuity to the participants who they need face-to-face treatment.
By operating with the permits of a health institution, such as an emergency room, the center already had strict health protocols, but now with the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) they reinforced cleaning measures and readjusted entry and appointment processes.
“My call or my invitation to our users is that we are here for them, that they return home. We will also be virtually, but I know that for some of them the benefit of face-to-face therapy is much greater and more effective, "urged the president of SER, Nilda Morales.
On a tour that EL VOCERO , it was found that, at the entrance to their main headquarters in Hato Rey, a nurse takes the temperature of everyone who enters, there is a distance from the waiting room to the therapy spaces, that all employees and visitors They have masks and the common areas are disinfected regularly.
Since mid-May, the institution has already received participants, but the reception has been timid, mainly due to the fear of contagion.
“It has been a process of return very slow, although in networks and communications we have said that it is safe. Fear stops them and we really want them to know that they will be safe here, "Morales stressed.
After Hurricane María, the center prepared to offer its services virtually. So, in that sense, their personnel were already trained and had the equipment and programs necessary to operate remotely. However, there are neurological conditions, and cases of strokes, car accidents, fractures and inflamed arthritis, among others, that require the use of specialized equipment.
“It was necessary to have the alternative of receiving them again to work on their conditions the way they deserve. We are alternating, the one who can virtual continues to do so, the one who does not, comes to the center … It is a new lifestyle that demands that we be creative and ingenious, but no less responsible, "he said.
Griselle Ojeda Ocasio is one of the participants who has already returned to receive her rehabilitation therapies.
“We all have to be protected. If I am not protected, neither are they because there is no therapy, "she said of the new reality caused by the pandemic.
The supervisor of physical therapy, Felicita Figueroa, said that in order to continue offering the rehabilitation service, they have implemented the use of gowns, face shield, mask and gloves.
“We have to give them the assurance that the procedures are being done to continue offering their services in this type of equipment that cannot be offered remotely. We are protecting them and we are protecting ourselves, "emphasized the therapist, noting that the equipment is disinfected before and after each use.
At the same time, she highlighted the importance of the continuity of rehabilitation services. “There is an important time in the development of the person, to intervene. If the service is interrupted, the achievement of the goals is prolonged or perhaps it is not in the same way that it was going to be given. It affects the time when goals are achieved, or goals are not achieved, "said Figueroa.
On the other hand, Morales recognized the difficulties they have faced this year in order to raise money. And, in SER de Puerto Rico, services are offered both to people who have a medical plan and to those who do not have the resources to pay for the treatments.
“In terms of collection, it is the area with the greatest impact We have had because we could not do the Embeleco Day, the fashion show or the soccer tournament. Because we started (the year) with earthquakes and we postponed everything to do it in the spring, and in the spring the pandemic came, "Morales said.
Another of its great events, the Telethon, was already postponed from the last Sunday of June to August 23.
"The collection that allows us to grant scholarships to all those who do not have the resources, allows us to do special projects and acquire expensive equipment," he pointed out.
"It hurts me to tell a family that we are the best alternative, but that we do not have space," he regretted, recognizing that due to the economic situation they will have to accept fewer participants, thus limiting possibilities of a full life for children and adults.
SER de Puerto Rico, is a non-profit institution, established since 1950, which offers medical – therapeutic services, education and support services to people with disabilities and autism just like they offer help to their families. It operates the only pediatric rehabilitation center on the Island and its centers are located in San Juan, Ponce and Ceiba.
It conducts evaluation, referral, screening and follow-up clinics for infants from 0 to five years of age, as well as offering rehabilitation services to adults and the elderly in the various municipalities in rural areas through their community outreach programs.
To cooperate and participate in the activities carried out by the organization as a volunteer and donor, you can call SER de Puerto Rico at (787) 767 -6992 or at (787) 767-6710. In Ponce it is 787- 813-1972 and Ceiba (787) 719 – 5444.