HEALTH

Puerto Rican doctors flee island, leave patients in despair
The steady departure of pediatricians, surgeons, orthopedists, neurologists and others has become a stampede as the economy shows no sign of improving and financial problems in the territorial health insurance program make it nearly impossible for doctors to stay in business.
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In this In this Oct. 7, 2016 photo, Dr. Reynold Lopez, one of the few surgical oncologist on the Island and teacher at the University of Puerto Rico school of medicine, performs thyroid surgery with resident physicians at Dr. Isaac Gonzalez Martínez Oncological Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The territory's number of doctors has dropped from 14,000 to 9,000 in the past decade, the majority leaving for higher salaries and lower living costs on the U.S. mainland. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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In this Oct. 7, 2016 photo, Dr. Reynold Lopez, center, a surgical oncologist and instructor at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, is followed by medical students at the Dr. Isaac Gonzalez Martinez Oncological Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where services are offered to cancer patients with limited financial resources. Due to the financial crisis up to 700 doctors are expected to leave Puerto Rico this year, double the number from two years ago. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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In this Oct. 24, 2016 photo, patients wait for their turn at one of the Medical Center external clinics in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The territory's number of doctors has dropped from 14,000 to 9,000 in the past decade, the majority leaving for higher salaries and lower living costs on the U.S. mainland. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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In this Oct. 7, 2016 photo, a nurse provides assistance to the surgical staff at the Dr. Isaac Gonzalez Martínez Oncological Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where services are offered to cancer patients with limited financial resources. Like many doctors, nurses are also moving to the United States in search of better wages. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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In this Oct. 24, 2016 photo, patients wait their turn at one of the Medical Center external clinics in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A steady departure of medical specialists from Puerto Rico has turned into a stampede amid the island's ongoing economic crisis leaving patients with few doctors to take care of their ills. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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In this In this Oct. 7, 2016 photo, Dr. Reynold Lopez, center, one of the few surgical oncologist on the island and teacher at the University of Puerto Rico school of medicine, gets ready to perform thyroid surgery with resident physicians at the Dr. Isaac Gonzalez Martinez Oncological Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Up to 700 doctors are expected to leave Puerto Rico this year, double the number from two years ago, said Dr. Victor Ramos, president of the island's Association of Surgeons. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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In this In this Oct. 7, 2016 photo, Dr. Reynold Lopez, left, a surgical oncologist, works hand in hand with resident physician Edgardo Cintron, during a thyroid surgery at Dr. Isaac González Martínez Oncological Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Many specialists no longer accept patients with Medicaid, which covers roughly half of Puerto Rico's population. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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In this Oct. 24, 2016 photo, resident physician Eric Hernandez Ortiz, right, talks with a colleague at the Medical Center orthopedic clinic in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Doctors have gradually left Puerto Rico during a decade-long recession that has gripped the island and driven more than 200,000 people to the U.S. mainland seeking better opportunities. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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In this Oct. 7, 2016 photo, Miguel Perez, an intern student from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, puts away his cell phone before walking into the operating room at the Dr. Isaac González Martínez Oncological Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Once they complete their general surgery training, many residents are moving to the United States in search of better wages, one of the main factors linked to the current shortage of specialists in the Island. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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In this Oct. 24, 2016 photo, patients wait for their turn at one of the Medical Center external clinics in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The island of 3.5 million people now has only two pediatric urologists, one orthopedist specializing in ankle and feet, one pediatric cardiologist, and a handful of geneticists and endocrinologists. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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In this Oct. 24, 2016 photo, patients wait for their turn at one of the Medical Center external clinics in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The exodus of doctors to the United States in search of better wages is one of the main factors linked to the current shortage of specialists in the Island. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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In this Oct. 24, 2016 photo, Orthopedic technician Francisco Blasco Reillo attends to a patient at the Medical Center pediatric orthopedics clinic in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The exodus of doctors to the United States in search of better wages is one of the main factors linked to the current shortage of specialists in the Island. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Puerto Rican doctors flee island, leave patients in despair

The steady departure of pediatricians, surgeons, orthopedists, neurologists and others has become a stampede as the economy shows no sign of improving and financial problems in the territorial health insurance program make it nearly impossible for doctors to stay in business.

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