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Haverhals LM. How Social Determinants of Health of Individuals Living or Working in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Home-Based Long-Term Care Programs in Puerto Rico Influenced Recovery after Hurricane Maria. International journal of environmental research and public health. 2022 Oct 14; 19(20).
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, causing extensive infrastructure damage and a significant number of deaths. In the months and years since, recovery from Maria has been slow, hampered by delayed delivery of fiscal aid, corruption, economic hardships, and Puerto Rico''s colonial status. Simultaneously, Puerto Rico''s population is rapidly aging and hundreds of thousands of mostly younger Puerto Ricans are migrating out of Puerto Rico for more opportunities. Many Puerto Ricans who are older or disabled and need long-term care receive this care in home-based environments, as Puerto Rico has minimal institutionalized long-term care infrastructure and limited funding to expand it. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers several home-based long-term care options for Veterans in Puerto Rico. In this qualitative case study, veterans, VA staff, veterans'' caregivers, caregivers'' family members, and veterans'' family members receiving or involved with providing this care were interviewed regarding their experiences during and after Hurricane Maria. Specifically, this study highlights how social determinants of health of those residing in or involved with VA home-based long-term care programs influenced recovery from Hurricane Maria, and how findings can inform disaster recovery and provision of home-based long-term care going forward.