Not all medical professionals are so fortunate.
“We don’t go through this every day,” says Dr. Ravi Gupta.
That’s because Gupta, a surgeon who regularly treats patients at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, has been displaced by Hurricane Maria, which wreaked havoc across the island. His family was supposed to reunite in Chicago over the weekend, but when he returned to Puerto Rico his home was wiped out.
“I’m dealing with the kind of stuff that you would expect to see in movies,” Gupta said. “For me it hasn’t been surreal or anything.”
He was one of five physicians with NBC 5 and Telemundo Chicago forced to leave their homes in Puerto Rico to bring back life-saving supplies for hundreds of patients and the hospital that serves them. On Friday, we met one of those doctors, Dr. Victor Pagan, who said he and his family huddled in a room together to help protect themselves from the winds.
“The time zone difference was an advantage to us,” Pagan said. “We didn’t have to go through all of the ridiculous traffic.”
To save the lives of patients caught in the line of fire, doctors like Pagan left for Chicago and then gave up their homes to return in order to spread the critical supplies they desperately needed. The senior doctors don’t expect to be back in Puerto Rico until next month, but they’re dedicated to making sure more aid arrives as soon as possible.
“There is nothing in Puerto Rico yet,” Gupta said. “Even a cubic yard of water.”
He told us that this mission is not just a relief mission, but a ways of returning, while laying the foundation for a rebuild.
“You just have to go through all of that,” he said. “You have to face the first.”
Dr. Gupta says it won’t be easy but it’s necessary, and he’s more than ready to do whatever he can to help.
“I just came from a funeral,” he said. “It’s that serious.”