USF doctors to help in Puerto Rico after Maria

- The University of South Florida is preparing to send a dozen doctors to help in the shortfall of medical experts currently on the island of Puerto Rico. The Caribbean isle is still very much in the midst of recovery following Hurricane Maria, but that assistance from local doctors will be there on Saturday.

Dr. Asa Oxner said the doctors will be sent out in different waves over several weeks, with about three or four experts on each flight.

“I mean, this is why you go to medical school,” she offered. “It's something that we can't just let it happen and to our loved ones without going there.”

Oxner specializes in internal medicine and explains her area of expertise is one of the most needed on the island.

“Right now they're saying internal medicine, pediatrics and mental health,” she said.

So USF is making sure Puerto Ricans get the help so many of them are waiting for. The university will be sending doctors to the island where they will cater to hospitals or medical centers with no other resources. Oxner will be one of three doctors flying over on Saturday.

“Donations of medications, medical supplies and also bringing teams of USF and Tampa General physicians down to the hospital,” she said. “Being there and helping them out is going to be a really important project to us.”

Oxner says she'll be in Puerto Rico for at least a week before her team leaves and others take their place.

She says it's important for medical help to get to the island fast, as she anticipates even more issues to arise in the coming weeks and possibly months.

“The next wave of things is going to be malnutrition, diarrhea, disease, dehydration,” Oxner continued. “It's really going to become a health as well as a humanitarian disaster.”

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