Thursday, April 28, 2011
Frustrations working within the Peruvian Health System
I would like to tell you about 3 patients who came to the clinic one morning this week and the frustrations I sometimes experience working within the Peruvian medical system.
Saturnina is a 73 year old quechua lady from the countryside who does not speak spanish. She presented with a 3 year history of a skin lesion,abdominal pain and profound weight loss (she weighed 40kilos!) I am almost positive she has an aggressive skin cancer. Since she has no health insurance I gave her a referral letter to see a dermatologist at the government hospital. She is very poor but will have to find money for the consult and a skin biopsy, if she has cancer there will be no oncology treatment available to her in Cusco.She will have to queue up at 0500 in the morning hoping for an appointment with the dermatologist, it will be frightening for her since she does not speak spanish and is not used to hospitals.I pray that she will be treated with dignity and that people will take time to explain things properly to her.
Pelagio is 57 and has chronic lung disease requiring an operation to remove part of his lung. He has an insurance policy which will cover his operation however, he needs to pay for the anaesthetist, for 2 pints of blood ,( or find someone to donate them for him) his travel, food and board in Lima for the operation. I have been trying to make contact with a church in the Peruvian baptist convention to find someone who can help him in Lima (his family refuse to help him) and maybe visit him in hospital, we are working on it but it has been difficult to find someone willing to get involved.
It was good to invite him to join with the staff at our Friday morning prayer meeting so we could pray with him , for his medical, practical and spiritual needs.
Jesus is a 6 year old boy who has severe mental and physical disabilities, he is incontinent, he can not speak or walk, we were assessing him to try and make a diagnosis to pass on to a special needs school we hope will accept him , a charity that our friend has set up, this would be a huge support to the whole family. (His mum is currently in hospital having her leg amputated).
Three patients that all made me think how different things would be for them if they lived in a country where there was a national health service!
Wasn't it Mother Teresa who said she imagined seeing Jesus in each person she cared for? Well we try and do that at La Fuente clinic but to remind us further we even sometimes have patients called Jesus!