If it is true, as well stated by Bohemia magazine November 29, 2013, that “in Cuba for more than 25 years the Cuban Medical Equipment Industry produces hospital furniture of exportable quality”, why then are the beds and stretchers in our hospitals so few or are so scruffy?
Often, the mass media supporters of the Cuban government dedicate themselves to weigh the achievements, the quality, and the efficiency of the public health system. However, every year it becomes more difficult to bear hospital facilities provided for common people. Government neglect is notorious.
It is therefore paradoxical that Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda, Minister of Public Health, has declared during a meeting with the national press: “Our hospitals have the necessary good conditions for the stay of a patient and their companion, everything is guaranteed: sheets, towels, pajamas, soap, green fabric and furniture, among others” (Juventud Rebelde, March 13, 2014).
I tend to believe that the Minister referred to the hospitals intended to the government leaders, because if he visited any of the others national hospitals, he would realize that the beds are rickety, the seats for the companions do not exist nor wheelchairs to transport the sick. The mattresses are stained from secretions and human waste, and the little bedding for the existing bed is soiled and is used only for the most poor of the sick. It would be timely, then, that Mr. Minister carry out a visit to other hospitals.
A few days ago, a neighbor’s husband was admitted in the Julio Trigo Hospital. As he did not walk anymore, she left in search of a gurney to transport him to the geriatrics room. When her nephew saw she returned with empty hands, he went to look for a wheelchair. Instead he returned with a stretcher. This, very kind, accommodated the sick man and went up the elevator to the room. He looked for an intact bed and an acceptable mattress. In parting, he said that for anything they needed he would be on duty. The aunt, puzzled, asked her nephew if he knew him, and this, responded with a little smile on his face, “yes, thanks to a small gift of 5 chavitos (CUC).
But lost stretchers are more than one story, although the press does not worry about making it known. Recently a woman, in one of those many queues, which happen daily for Cubans, commented to me that the stretcher is what opens the way in a hospital: for 2 CUC takes you to the X-ray technician, the physician to analyze the plate, and the technician who will have to cast the foot. Surprised, I asked if that charge, so shamelessly, to which she clarified that no, that it counts like a small present, a mere tip in any case.
Another: 84 year-old Jorge Izquierdo is a hypertensive elderly man who in his last geriatric visit was recommended to monitor his blood pressure often. When he goes to the medical post there is always an impediment: the doctor is not there, it is the day for those who are pregnant or the nurse is there but does not have the necessary equipment. Concerned about the situation, Jorge decided to go to the polyclinic. That means not only to queue to treat you the doctor on call, but also to go through a series of tedious instances. Today he is hopeful that the apparatus that he asked a nephew from the United States for arrives, to see if finally he could take his blood pressure without frights or other mishaps.
Lastly: Yamila, a pregnant epileptic, suffered an attack while 18 weeks pregnant. From the school where she worked she was taken to the gynecology and obstetrics hospital Hijas de Galicia. When her mother and brother arrived they had a stretcher in the guardroom. Although she had already regained consciousness, she felt very tired and dazed. Later she returned to convulsing. Faced with the family question of why her hadn’t been admitted yet, they were told that there were no beds available. Although the doctor said that she needed to be transferred to another hospital immediately, the ambulance did not appear. Only when her brother began screaming and demanding a responsible behavior to the medical staff did the vehicle appear. Finally, she was admitted in the intensive care unit in the Enrique Cabrera National Surgical Hospital.