By: Bryan M. Acosta Lugo
On Thursday October 9, 2014 a press conference, took place in Carlos Chardon Building at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez, to discuss the health crisis in Puerto Rico. Panelist, Dr. Rafael Moura, nurses Marta Martínez and Catalina Moura, and eyewitness and retired nurse Librada Borrero spoke about the problems that are affecting the Puerto Rico’s health system and gave recommendations to rebuild it.
Puerto Rico is submerged in a hole and does not see the light at the end of the road. Its health system has been characterized by some famous issues such as the spread of a bacteria in a hospital, doctors who would not accept the public insurance, a case where a doctor argued with a patient and the doctors who left the island.
The four panelists said that the main purpose of future doctors or current doctors leaving the island is to get better work condition and better salaries. Marta Martínez said “It is a field that has a lot of sacrifices and risks and the wage here in Puerto Rico does not pays the sacrifices it takes. Places like Florida pay nurses about $120 per hour meanwhile in Puerto Rico pay is only $12”.
The poor capability of the medical services provoked a major crisis in an intensive care unit area in the University of Puerto Rico Hospital in Carolina where the Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria spread and infected around 10 people in the hospital. The Department of Health admitted that they did not follow the protocol and the security measures that should have been taken when the bacteria was first sighted.
Fault on Ethics
The journey of the crisis in the Health Department did not end there; there was an issue on August 18 where a doctor, identified as Gloria Ortiz entered a discussion with a patient after the patient questioned her why she was mad while calling other patients who were not on the emergency waiting room at that moment, as cited in Primera Hora’s article. In this case, Dr. Ortiz violated the rights of the patient as are written under the Constitution’s Bill of Rights of Puerto Rico and a fault to the ethic of a doctor how is supposed to be there to help the patient on need not to give him more troubles.
Puerto Rico’s government has a public insurance, known as the Reforma, which his free to those who cannot afford a private medical insurance. “The issue with this public insurance is that some patients exaggerate their conditions and/or imagine conditions to use it,” Marta said. Many of these conditions need medical processes that cost money, which doctors don’t see for month after the treatment, this annoys doctors who decide not to accept it anymore creating a bigger problems to those who accept it because they have more patients. It also troubles patients who have more waiting time between appointments to find a doctor that could attend his or her situation.
Rebuilding the System
As for the rebuilding or fixing of the health system, eyewitness Librada Borrero said “there is hope but we will not be that health system again” regarding the fact mentioned by Dr. Moura that the Puerto Rican health system was one of the best in the industry where countries sent people to learn our system and then implant them in their country when analyzed possible solution for the crisis. If the health system wants to get out of the crisis, it should start by motivating young doctors to stay in the island so they can attend the situations with new ideas that could bring new economic help which could raise the wages.