Pharmacists in Puerto Rico struggle to get medication to people in shelters

Getting medicine to those in need
Getting medicine to those in need 01:37

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- In addition to food and water, medicine is in short supply in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Ricardo Rivera has diabetes, and went to four drug stores in one day. "My insulin ends today and I need it to stay alive," he said.

Yet again, he came up empty. "They don't take my insurance," Rivera said at one store.

Many people have run out of medicine or lost it in the hurricane, so local doctors are now setting up very special house calls.

They are doing check-ups at clinics and shelters, then going to get the medicines people need and delivering them back to wherever the patients are.  

Short supply of aid in PR 03:16

Robert Alsina was volunteering his time and car to take Walgreens pharmacist Ileana Rivera on the road to set up a makeshift dispensary at one shelter in Catano, outside San Juan.

Luis Rivera has high blood pressure. He said the last time he took a blood pressure pill was nine days ago.

Chris Oquendo got insulin for his grandmother, and immediately tested her blood sugar. "It's high, 174, and that's really high for her," he says.

Unlike the physical devastation, which is obvious all over the island, the medical devastation is often hidden. So a major challenge remains -- figuring out who is suffering and what they need.

  • Jon Lapook
    Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for CBS News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook