Health Crisis in Puerto Rico

By: Natali Rivera

Puerto Rico–“50 percent of the success of a health plan is on prevention”. Given the health crisis in Puerto Rico, students at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez organized a press conference with health professionals of high caliber to inform the university community. The press conference took place on Thursday, October 9 at 10:30 in Chardon. Moderators began the activity by introducing the panelists and interviewers. The round of questions began, and as expected, debates, and different ideas formed a challenging atmosphere to such an important topic for the people of Puerto Rico.

The panel was made-up of four professionals. Mrs. Catalina Moura, nurse and counselor, Mrs. Marta Martínez, specialist on health insurances; Dr. Rafael Stoll, a lawyer specialized on health laws; and Mrs. Librada Borrero, a nurse and witness of the panel. The first question asked about common problems on the health system today.  Stoll noted that the services are not reaching the beneficiaries and over 80 percent of the people rely on the services.

The public health insurance is one of the biggest deficiency on the health system. Many people are left unattended, because as Martínez explained, without a referral, there is no appointment with the specialist. “Every patient of the public health plan should have the option of at least two doctors per specialty. There are specializations that are not available in the west area, such as urologists. Doctors are not obliged to accept patients from the “reforma” and it is very difficult to find one who accepts it, because “reforma” doesn’t pay on time”. Martínez said because of the poor pay, it occurred the controversial case of Dr. Gloria Ortiz in Bayamon “I killed myself studying in the damn Medical Sciences Campus to come and deal with you … “said Ortiz in the video.

In Puerto Rico health care work are not valued. Monetary reward is very small compared to the responsibility they carry, said Martinez. However, in the United States professionals are properly paid. Panelists were asked collectively why they believed health professionals were going to the United States rather than stay in their island. They agreed that professionals were looking for better quality of work and higher salaries. For example, in Florida a nurse earns $120.00 an hour, while in the island they earn $12.00 an hour. Borrero added that here in Puerto Rico there is too much pressure exerted to health professionals. Often a single nurse has 17-18 patients while in the United States she would have only three patients.

In this photo, conference organizers pose with panelists. From right to left, Ian Aldwen, Professor Jocelyn Geliga, Librada Borrero, Bryan Acosta, Rafael Stoll, Marta Martínez, Catalina Moura, Natali Rivera and Claralys Hernandez. –Emmanuel Robles and Francis Rodriguez also were part of our group but doesn’t appear on the photo.

In this photo, conference organizers pose with panelists. From right to left, Ian Aldwen, Professor Jocelyn Geliga, Librada Borrero, Bryan Acosta, Rafael Stoll, Marta Martínez, Catalina Moura, Natali Rivera and Claralys Hernandez. –Emmanuel Robles and Francis Rodriguez also were part of our group but doesn’t appear on the photo.

Economically we are incompetent to the arrival of new diseases. The public health system has a pocket for the year and it is sadly very little to meet the needs of the people. After the chikunguya and ebola we can see that we are not prepared to these kind of viruses noted Moura. Is this can be a strategy of the United States to withdraw money with vaccines and medecines for this new diseases? Is this can mentally affect the people? Mrs. Martínez said “ On Puerto Rico there are many hypochondriac people. The person may not have the virus, but as it has been advertised much in the news the people have it in mind. The mental health of Puerto Rico is wrong and the budget of the “reforma” goes in mental health services, more than anything else. We should return to the CDT (Center for Diagnosis and Treatment).”

Moura added that “50 percent of the success of a health plan is on prevention”. Health insurance agencies should worry more on educating people, especially young ones. They should inculcate on people the importance of the health care, by exhorting them to check themselves at least one time a year. That way diseases are prevented and if any disease is discovered it can be treated in to have a better and healthier life. “If as a young person, you don’t care your health, you’ll be a sick adult,”said Moura.

 

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