Nearly 20 Bay Area nurses head to Puerto Rico to offer medical aid

Nearly 20 Bay Area nurses were getting ready late Tuesday morning to board a plane at San Francisco International Airport and head to Puerto Rico to help its residents recover from Hurricane Maria, officials with the Registered Nurse Response Network said.

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, causing widespread destruction as a Category 4 storm.

“I’m anxious to help the Puerto Rican people,” said 27-year-old Kaitlyn Gentilin, a nurse who lives in Oakland. “I want to use my skills and abilities to help.”

Gentilin specializes in telemetry nursing but she is going to Puerto Rico to provide medical aid in any way they want her to, she said.

The nearly 20 nurses leaving SFO will be part of a contingent of up to 50 volunteer registered nurses from across the country going to Puerto Rico, according to the Registered Nurse Response Network, a project of National Nurses United and the California Nurses Foundation.

The nurses will be in Puerto Rico for two weeks as part of a relief effort sponsored by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

Officials with the AFL-CIO are working with the San Juan mayor’s office and the Puerto Rican Federation of Labor.

The nurses will treat people in hospitals, nursing homes and other places.

The Registered Nurse Response Network has more than 12 years of experience providing medical care after disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the South Asia tsunami and Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

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