“For me, this is personal,” says Josue Quinones of Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico in September and, nearly three months later, has millions of the U.S. territory’s residents – including his family – still recovering.

The senior director for performance improvement in HCA’s East Florida Division is originally from Puerto Rico, as is his wife, Lynette. After the catastrophic storm made landfall and communication with relatives on the island became virtually nonexistent, Quinones knew that he had to do something, anything, to help.

He says the idea to collect donations came out of pure “desperation and natural instinct.”

“We didn’t know about family members for days,” he said. “My family lives close to San Juan so eventually somebody sent me a picture of my mom – that was maybe four days after the hurricane. My wife’s family lives on a section of the island that didn’t have any communication at all, so it took us about a week and a half to connect with them.”

Thanks to a local company that donated a flight, Quinones made his first trip to Puerto Rico four days after the hurricane with a couple of generators and basic supplies for three families, including his own, and the airport staff who helped offload the plane.

“Once I went to the island and actually saw the devastation, I understood how big it was and how great the need was going to be,” he said. “I knew we needed to do something on a bigger scale to have an impact.”

Thankfully, many of our hospitals were anxious to help me,” he continued. “Colleagues from Lawnwood, Westside, Mercy, Kendall, just to name a few – everybody wanted to help.”

Quinones joined a group of community organizers in Florida, including Maggie Morales-Perez – the stepmother of HCA’s East Florida Information Technology and Services (IT&S) Application Development Director Gabriel Perez – who already were raising awareness and coordinating relief efforts to help the people of Puerto Rico.

The collective effort resulted in more than 4 million pounds of donations, including water and general supplies such as canned goods, hygiene products, household items and medical supplies from the HCA East Florida Division.

“My colleagues’ support has been amazing. I have received not only support from supplies and donations, but also, ‘how are you doing?’” he said. “I can’t say enough about their support.”

As for Quinones’ family in Puerto Rico – they are managing, he says.

“This is going to be a long process for us to recover, and I plan to provide support for as long as is needed,” he said. “This is personal first. Most of my family and friends are there, so it’s very important to me. And as a person, as a human being, once you see the devastation, you have a commitment to do anything you can to help.”

We’re proud to share Josue Quinones’ story in our latest edition of HCA Heroes. English and Spanish versions are provided below. HCA internal audience can view the video here