- Gretchen Sierra-Zorita: With Puerto Rico's fiscal crisis, the doctor is never in
- Rising costs and physician shortages threaten to overwhelm health care system, she says
Gretchen Sierra-Zorita is a policy and communication strategist, focusing on Latino and Puerto Rican issues. She handles media diversity issues for the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts and is curator of Puerto Rico En Serio. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.
(CNN)When my father was a boy, hunger and disease were rampant in Puerto Rico. Decades later, he would still remember the pallor of the anemic countryside jibaros -- poor and uneducated but revered for their close ties to the land -- who traveled to San Juan in their Sunday best. In 1949, my father boarded the Spanish ship Conde de Argelejo in San Juan. He would arrive in Spain that fall to enroll at the University of Salamanca Faculty of Medicine. At the time there were only 537 doctors in Puerto Rico to take care of 2.2 million people.