Hurricane Can't Bend the Resolve of Medtronic Employees in Puerto Rico

Even workers dealing with severe home damage put patients ahead of their personal repairs.

October 9, 2017 - It took Hurricane Maria only a matter of hours to severely damage what Rafael Rodriguez has been building for much of his life.

The hurricane tore the roof from his home in Ponce, and destroyed the top floor where three of his relatives lived. They were up there when the roof started to give way and hurried downstairs just before Maria deposited the top of the house in the backyard. The family still lives on the ground floor, but with no roof, the floor of the second story is their only protection from the elements. Water damage gets worse every time it rains. And it’s rained regularly in Ponce since Maria left.

Medtronic Puerto Rico Recovery

The Strength of a Storm

The hurricane tore the roof from Rafael's home in Ponce, and destroyed the top floor where three of his relatives lived. 

“Welcome to my new swimming pool,” Rodriguez, 55, says as he walks through two inches of water on what’s left of the second story. “Not the pool I wanted, but it’s the one Maria left me.”

Rodriguez built this home more than 20 years ago. Despite the severe damage he intends to rebuild. But even with no power and no drinkable water, Rodriguez waits until evening to work on his house.

During the day, he goes to Medtronic.

“I come to work because people around the world depend on the instruments we build,” he said. “I know my family is safe. So why would I stay home when I could be helping others who have probably suffered a different tragedy.”

Medtronic is providing emergency relief to dozens of employees like Rodriguez, things like food, water, power generators, help with FEMA applications and more.

No one needs that help more than Emelio Plaza. 

I come to work because people around the world depend on the instruments we build.

Rafael Rodriguez, Medtronic employee

He lost everything when Maria tore two big holes in the roof and blew out the back wall of his house. He and his elderly mother took shelter in his pickup truck just before the worst of the storm ripped through his home.

He picked up a large box of food and a case of water at Medtronic, where he’s been assembling medical products for a dozen years.

“What I need right now, Medtronic is providing,” he said. “When I needed it the most, Medtronic was there to help me,” he said.

Medtronic is aware of over 100 employees who have either lost their homes or have suffered severe damage to their homes. The company is providing them with as much support as possible, including food, water and access to emergency funds to begin repairs. And all employees in Puerto Rico are receiving tax-free bonuses on top of their usual paychecks, the latter paid even though all facilities were closed in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

“I know the health and security of us, the employees, is a top priority for Medtronic,” Rodriguez said. “I feel very proud to be a part of Medtronic right now.”