Thanks to My Country’s Healthcare System

Mercedes Gonzalez Amade

foto3HAVANA TIMES — A few months ago, I had to be hospitalized because of several fractures in my left ankle and metatarsus, as well as my chronic condition (spastic paraparesis). I had lost all mobility in my legs, my sense of balance and muscle strength. I also had other conditions that I became aware of after being admitted at the Julito Diaz Hospital. The quality of Cuban healthcare in terms of its professionals and specialists is world-renowned.

I hadn’t been to this hospital for some time, not even for checkups (which was a mistake on my part). Since it’s far from home, I had chosen to go to other hospitals or polyclinics.

When I got to the hospital, I was amazed at the positive changes that the restoration of the facility had brought. In addition to repairing hospital infrastructure, they have set up cutting edge technology that is almost on a par with what one sees in the First World.

People from other countries who have suffered serious lesions are also treated at this hospital. I’ve met a number of them and we have shared ideas, personal tastes and even trying experiences, for we have undergone certain types of therapy together. They have told me that the cost of their rehabilitation here is comparatively cheap, and that they are very happy with the medical attention they are receiving.

In our conversations, they are surprised to learn that I don’t have to pay a cent for my rehabilitation. Their eyes go wide with surprise when they hear that, in my ward, they could come across a medical doctor, an athlete, an economist, a housewife and a retired marine, all with the same rights and entitled to the same care. They are moved to hear that, spending so much time together, we grow on one another and develop lasting friendships. I met one of my sporting companions at this hospital years ago and we have won more than one match together.

We are fortunate to have this place. If I lived in another country, I am positive I would not be able to walk as I do now. I must be admitted two to three times a year to receive expensive treatment, good food and medication. My family is poor, I am unable to work and my son is still in school.

I am able to walk almost as well as I could before I fractured my left ankle. I started taking small, painful steps, but I’ve recovered the mobility I’d lost. I am happy with myself, I know it’s hard but I always push myself to move forward, through effort and will.

Mercedes González

Mercedes González Amade: I'm 38 years old and physically challenged. I struggle daily in this life be it on crutches or in a wheelchair. I have a 12-year-old son who is my main inspiration and for who I have fought tooth and nail. I hold a position in the governmental institution that serves the handicapped in my part of the capital. In the afternoons I practice tennis well away from where I live. My intention with Havana Times is to help spread the desire to live and to do so with dignity, especially to persons with physical and motor difficulties.



40 thoughts on “Thanks to My Country’s Healthcare System

  • There has been some dispute on this list re the reported growth of the Cuban GDP. Some suggested that this was not real and was not visible in people’s daily lives.
    The restoration of this facility could explain where some of that money has gone.

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    • Cuba has anywhere from a $60-85 billion annual budget. One freshly painted hospital explains nothing.

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      • That the budget of CUBA is less than that of the state of Florida is very telling

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        • I am not surprised that the budget of Florida is more than that of Cuba. For a start the population of Cuba is 11.27 million while the population of Florida is 20.27 million.
          At various times in its history Cuba has been under US occupation. Florida has never been under Cuban occupation. And even when not occupied, Cuba has existed for many years under the thumb of the US. We might reasonably ask what effect this had on economic development.

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          • I think we might reasonably ask what effect communist had on people and their motivation

          • Ken used his real name, Informed Consent. He was discussing “what effect” Batista and the Mafia had on pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary Cuba. Can you, with a straight face, discuss such things.

          • Absolutely. …By the way, how do you know Ken is his real name? By the same token how do you know my name is not Informed Consent?

          • Your name could not possibly be Informed.
            Disinformed is more like it.

          • Communism ? No country in the history of the world has ever been communist .
            Revolutionary Cuba has always been ( totalitarian) state capitalist since the beginning.
            It never moved to ( democratic socialism) but instead incorporated a socialist-style distribution of essential goods and services
            Since it never became socialist, it could not make the transition to communism since democratic socialism is an essential step in progressing to a communist state .
            If it isn’t democratically -worker -run, it isn’t socialism or communism.

          • It’s not exactly accurate to say that Florida was never under Cuban occupation. From 1513 to 1763, Florida was under Spanish rule as part of the same colonial district as Cuba & Puerto Rico. From 1763 to 1783 Florida fell under British control and then reverted to Spanish rule again until 1821. Florida became a territory of the USA in 1822.

            The effect of US occupation on Cuban economic development was considerable. During the first occupation, the US army built roads, railways, harbours, sewage & water systems. After years of destruction & neglect by the Spanish, the infrustructure was vastly improved which stimulates the Cuban economy. To be sure, the US did this not primarily for the benefit of the Cuban people, but to improve the ability of US business to penetrate and exploit the island’s natural wealth. Yet, in the process, the standard of living for Cubans increased significantly. The price was a loss in Cuban sovereignty. Poverty under Spanish hegemony was traded for affluence under US hegemony.

            During the subsequent brief US occupations, the US military limited their activities to protecting US owned assets and did nothing to improve local conditions.

            The US granted special trade deals to buy the majority of the Cuban sugar production at relatively high fixed prices. This arrangement lead to a huge boon in the Cuban economy starting in the First World War and continuing into the late 1950s. All that came to an end when Castro seized control and took over US owned property.

            By the way, contrary to popular misconception, the US didn’t own all the Cuban sugar plantations. In fact, the largest sugar business was owned by a Cuban, Julio Lobo. His property was also seized by Castro.

      • For Moses or any other self-serving propagandist to demean this woman’s sincere article also, I believe, demeans democracy and America. Lies to support a Cuban policy the whole world deplores EVEN DEMEANS legitimate things that Cuba can and should be criticized for. But “It’s the biggest blow yet against Castro” (after the terrorist bombing of a civilian airplane) or “if we ease the embargo every additional dollar will go to Castro’s (non-existent) Swiss bank account” or Moses’ brilliant “One freshly painted hospital” (to mock a Cuban woman touting Cuba’s revolutionary health care) are protestations that intelligent and democracy-loving Americans have had rammed their (our) throats since January 1, 1959. Do you think, Moses, in January of 2016 there are intelligent Americans who actually believe or at least succumb to such propaganda?.

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        • I think your reading comprehension skills have slipped. I was not demeaning this woman’s puff piece for Cuban healthcare. I was responding to Ken Hiebert’s claim that Cuba’s reported 4.7% GDP growth rate for 2015 was spent on this hospital and therefore invisible to the rest of the Cuban population. To your question, the more Americans learn about the Castros, their Human rights violations, and details of real life in Cuba, the less idealized the Castro dictatorship seems. It’s just like Che Guevara, when folks learn what a homophobic, racist non-bathing slob he really was, they stop buying those t-shirts with the Korda photo. Same thing for the Castros as a whole.

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          • Yeah, Fidel and Che spitted and roasted babies in the Sierra Maestra.
            Fidel , who actually is secretly running the country, sleeps with a copy of Mein Kampf under his pillow .
            They were the devil incarnate.
            “The more Americans learn….” ??
            You should try it sometime when historical fact is more agreeable to you.

          • Your failed attempt at sarcasm proves another point. Defenders of the regime are easily frustrated. I attacked the Castros and their oligarchy. To defend them, you attack me. Typical.

          • I should perhaps be more explicit. The article reports a restoration of the facility. That could be simply a new paint job or it could be more than that. And I wouldn’t suggest that the whole of the increased GDP is being spent in this one place. If the government is spending money at this facility, it could be spending at other hospitals and schools or more broadly on infrastructure.

          • An increase in GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT implies an increase in PRODUCTION before considering costs associated with that production. It doesn’t mean new paint for one hospital or even 100 new hospitals. It’s a measure of an increase in the sale of goods and services.

        • Non existent Swiss bank account? Well I can’t speak to that, but didn’t Tony Castro spend his summer in Bodrum? At least according to. Turkish publication which was quoted on this site. According to the publication, Castro arrived at the tourist complex from Mikonos, on a 50-meter-long vessel, accompanied by a retinue of 12 people, including relatives, friends an bodyguards.” Swiss bank account or not , those Castros sure have a lot of money to throw around

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  • Good that someone is standing up for Cuba’s excellent health system. In a recent interview with a newspaper in Panama, one of the Cuban migrants trying to reach the US was quoted as saying that neither the health nor education systems are free, since while in theory this is so in practice one has to bribe doctors to get treatment or teachers to get anywhere in school. He wasn’t of course asked for any proof that this is the case.

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    • They are not free because when the average salary is about or less than $25 US a month, the people is paying the highest taxes in the world for these “freebies”.

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      • Is it possible to afford similar treatment on average salary in US, if you have no medical coverage?

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      • You make the mistake of conflating living standards and conditions between the very wealthy USA and Cuba which has been under economic attack by that very powerful USA for 54 years .
        Cuba alone in Latin America has no childhood malnutrition.
        That alone excuses a lot of the negatives of life in Cuba .

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    • John, that Cuban’s claims are true.

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      • Moses, if you did not reply like how you replied, I would have suffered a Sanford. It was just the other day that HT published an article about Cuban inefficiencies causing the drought in Cuba. This home owner was saying that leaking pipes were responsible. So, people do own homes in Cuba. I have visited homes owned by ordinary people. Some people do really sing for their supper eh? If the country is owned by the people and not a few oligarchs. everything in the country becomes yours. You live in a house it is yours and, by the way, Cuba does not have drug infested areas..

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        • Here are indisputable facts: more than 50% of the fresh water supply is lost to leaky and broken pipes. Private property rights as Americans understand them do not exist in Cuba. Drugs in Cuba are available everywhere. Drug use, albeit less common, is widespread.

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    • What I would call the Cuban Traitor Class, as opposed to the Just Disgruntled, loves to make up fantastic stories denigrating any accomplishment of the Revolution. Just this month an article appeared in my local, small town newspaper about a Cuban “refugee”, allegedly imprisoned in Cuba for printing “exposes” about true conditions in Cuba. He was duly awarded with a slum home which had been foreclosed on by Wells Fargo, but which the Bank no longer wanted, and hence donated to a charitable organization. Happy as a clam, he explained that in Cuba, this dream of owning a hovel in a drug infested, dangerous neighborhood would be impossible as ” in Cuba, nobody can own a house. Nobody can own anything”. Of course this was unquestioningly printed by my local, free-press paper as the truth, as are occasional testimonies of the police arresting citizens when they detect the aroma of cooked chicken emanating from their kitchen.

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      • Cuban traitor class Dan? How would you define that?
        How many times does a dog need to be kicked before biting back?

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      • Brother, you have hit the nail right on the head. Always coming up with some stupid story for the unsuspecting and the gullible to swallow. Sometimes I wonder if real people say those things or whether it is paper people who make them up? Nobody of real substance will or could ever believe such nonsense? An old dilapidated house in a crime infested area; mind you, not a modern house with all the modern facilities and in an upscale area; the message they are sending to the whole world is that you Cubans are not accustomed to any thing so this is what you deserve; decrying the Cuban people who are much more educated than the average American, giving the impression that the Cuban feels like a king living in this type of house in America because he cannot own a house in Cuba. All the homeless people living on the streets, sleeping on those streets in the dead of winter do not own houses in the so-called rich America? Degrading the human spirit of every Cuban. The poor Cuban would not be able to live long in that kind of environment and he would not be able to access good medical attention, Look at the environment in which his children will be raised and were he ever to invite his family to America?

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        • ….and yet Cubans continue to risk their lives to come to the U.S. they must know something you don’t eh Kennedy?

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    • This person was trying to earn her passage to the United States and was therefore trying to impress everyone that she is a worthy candidate for the wet foot dry foot policy. She was singing for her supper as my departed Grandmother would say. Those of us who are acquainted with the high ideals of the country and its leaders would know that what that person was saying is garbage/ Cuba could do well with the absence of such persons who will be greatly surprised at what they believe to be the land of opportunity.

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      • trying to earn her passage ….I mean really? Do you even believe that? Whatever your thoughts on the wet foot / dry foot policy, the only thing a Cuban needs to do to take advantage of it is set foot on American soil. No singing necessary.

        And it is well known that Cubans seeking treatment can expedite and imrove treatment with “gifts”. It’s quite well documented and we have all experienced the situation in one form or another. …prove me wrong!

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        • I can prove you wrong, because, when I visited Cuba last year, as a visitor, I was insured, but I paid the nominal fee up front and then claimed it from the insurance. Cubans who were there were attended to free of charge. The Doctors and the Nurses were so humane? I did not see any monies passed. The group of us who were touring visited the clinics where each municipality had a Doctor assigned to it. If the complaint is serious the patient is referred to a specialist. How come Cuba has trained so many professionals from other countries? Did they have to pay someone under the table to receive their diplomas? You are so easy to believe the worst about Cuba. Did you see HT on 1/9/2016 about the involvement of America in the disappearances of persons under the military juntas in Latin America? Do you know about people dying on the streets of America for want of medical attention and if they attend a hospital and are not in possession of insurance they will be turned away? What kind of inhumane system is that? If you have well documented facts, why not produce the evidence for all to see? You cannot convict a person without producing the evidence. This only happened in America when they tried the FIVE CUBAN HEROES who are now free and whom the world admired, respected and supported. Are you a man of substance? Then produce the facts! Are you a man of straw? Then I know that there will only be concocted evidence again, as was the case with the CUBAN FIVE!!

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          • Kennedy, Your observation does not refute my comment in any way. As a tourist you must be insured in order to enter Cuba. That Cuban’s pay or provide is well known. In addition if a Cuban finds him or herself in a hospital they usually provide their own bedding. A recent arctice in Al Jazzera says as much; “….Ironically, many medicines that cannot be found at a pharmacy are easily bought on the black market. Some doctors, nurses and cleaning staff smuggle the medicine out of the hospitals in a bid to make extra cash. Although medical attention remains free, many patients did and still do bring their doctors food, money or other gifts to get to the front of the queue or to guarantee an appointment for an X-ray, blood test or operation.”

            Another thing, it is illegal to turn away anyone from a hospital in the United States. “Public and private hospitals alike are prohibited by law from denying a patient care in an emergency. The Emergency Medical and Treatment Labor Act (EMTLA) explicitly forbids the denial of care to indigent or uninsured patients based on a lack of ability to pay. It also prohibits unnecessary transfers while care is being administered and prohibits the suspension of care once it is initiated, provisions that prevent dumping patients who cannot pay on other hospitals. The treatment of indigent and uninsured patients is a huge financial drain upon the health system, especially in areas where no public hospitals are available.

            http://law.freeadvice.com/malpractice_law/hospital_malpractice/hospital-patients.htm#ixzz3wz9ALt8l

            As for the rest of your comment, I don’t know what juntas or Cuban spies have to do with this article. It’s just more of your usual anti US screed. However, just to shut you up, the “Cuban 5” are nothing special, they are not heroes or any such thing. The Cuban five were simply part of a larger espionage group called “La Red Avispa”. They spied on the local Cuban community in Miami as well as Boca Chica Navel Air Station, Southern Command and the Turkey Point nuclear power station. They were simply trained intelligence agents working for a foreign power. It’s a shame we didn’t catch the rest in time to send them to prison as well. I believe there were 14 in total. Spies know the risks they run. They should have served more time. These spies are not, as you put it, “world respected”. Indeed few know who they are. Although I grant you that Cuba did organize a spectacular public relations campaign. Fortunately our justice system is not prone to media pressure…for the most part.

            http://www.wnd.com/2001/01/7761/

            None of my comments are “straw man” arguments, if that’s what you were inferring. On the contrary, I produce facts, whereas you just make stuff up.

            Kennedy, I don’t need to believe the worst about anything. Unlike you, whoever you are, I have lived the reality of your fantasy as a child in Cuba and have gone back several times to visit relatives. I know what Cuba is, could have been and can yet become. You just have to get rid of the totalitarian government first.

  • WOW! I wonder if my good friend Moses read this? I am grateful that HT was matured enough to print this. This does not endear me to the tripe that HT prints, most of it real propaganda. If the lady can receive free professional medical treatment and her son is receiving free education and he can be whatever he wants to be, what is so bad about the privileges the average Cuban Citizen can enjoy under the Revolution? These privileges, these rights could never be enjoyed in America. The lady would have long been dead in America especially if she did not have the necessary insurance. America is a place where the rich would live and the poor will die. In Cuba, everybody lives. Under a Socialist System,everybody has the right to life. In the USA it is a privilege to those who are rich. When I visited Cuba earlier in the year, I came in contact with Americans who came through Canada or Mexico in search of professional medical attention which costs less than half of what they would be charged in America. Cuban Doctors are trained to serve wherever they are needed; they are humanitarians; they do not see their patients as people to be fleeced to enrich themselves. The Cuban Doctor receives his education free of charge. The American Doctor has to borrow to pay the cost of the tuition. When he graduates, he has to pay off his tuition debt, he has to raise a family and he still has to live a life worthy of a Medical Doctor! He is burdened down. He has to pay off that debt. No humanity is reserved in him. He does not see his patients as human beings in need of medical attention. No! He sees them as objects to fleece in his effort to pay off his debt and to live the good life of the Doctor in a capitalist society. If there is a Natural Disaster in the remotest corner of the globe, he is not touched by the sufferings brought about. He remains in his comfort zone and rakes in the fees he charges his patients. The Cuban Doctor, on the other hand, is a human being who was trained to identify with the sufferings of his fellow men and women and will leave family and friends to travel to these remotest of areas to bring relief to his suffering brothers and sisters! You cannot touch a people like those. You cannot rub shoulders with people like those; you cannot decry a people like these. These are people who have been trained to reach out and to touch other people’s lives and to bring about a meaningful change in the world we live in. These Doctors, these Nurses, These Medical Technicians are Specially Created Human Beings who were created and trained to make the World the Paradise it was created to be. They serve God best, by serving their fellow men. What a vast difference between the Socialist trained Doctor and the Capitalist trained Doctor? Look at the thousands of Medical Doctors Cuba has trained since the REVOLUTION? Can the great America attest to the same? AMEN!!

    Reply
    • “…what is so bad about the privileges the average Cuban Citizen can enjoy under the Revolution?” Apparently the average Cuban is not so keen on them as they risk their very lives to flee the system you embrace. The difference Kennedy is that they live the Cuban reality every day, wherease you do not! The risks they take in escaping Cuba speak louder than your words.

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      • The Cubans risk their lives as balseros because of the “wet foot, dry foot” provision for Cubans.
        As before, the revolution the Cubans now , like all those heading for el norte are doing so because of U.S. caused poverty in their home countries .
        You are not telling the truth .

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        • My friend John, The purpose of the embargo which is against International Law was to cripple the Revolution and then destroy it. Its destruction would then be used as propaganda to say it failed, The reason would not be identified. The resilience of the Cuban people and their belief in the Revolution has enabled it to survive for 57 years, which is no mean feat and we should applaud them. America killed the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804, America tried to kill the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and America tried to kill the 1959 Cuban Revolution, What kind of country is America which was born out of a Revolution but tries its utmost to annihilate other Revolutions?

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      • Brother Informed Consent. Revolutions are built by Loyal, Dedicated, Committed Individuals. How come Haitians, Panamanians, Argentinians are not risking their lives to enter the US? It is because there is no wet foot, dry foot policy available to them, I have asked this question before and I ask it again,”What is it that would compel FIVE brave men known as the Cuban Five, Internationally to sacrifice 15 years of their lives in American prisons in order to protect their Revolution. What is there about the Revolution that you cannot and will never see? What is there about the Revolution that will awaken within the human soul the spirit to board an aircraft and travel thousands of miles to unknown lands to alleviate the sufferings inflicted upon their fellow men by natural disasters? THE REVOLUTION IS ABOUT PEOPLE AND CARING FOR THEM!! THE REVOLUTION IS ABOUT BRINGING HUMAN DIGNITY TO THE OPPRESSED, THE EXPLOITED, THOSE WITHOUT HOPE, THE SCUM OF THE EARTH. The exploiters, the oppressors, the gangsters, dislike what the Revolution has done for these people and will always criticize because the wretched of the earth who were to be hewers of wood and drawers of water have been liberated! Take away the wet foot dry foot policy and the Cubans would stay at home

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        • The revolution is this, the revolution is that. As a Cuban I find you’re remarks laughable. The strongest supporters of the Castro regime are always those that do not live under it.

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    • Cuba does not have a socialist economy.
      It has a (totalitarian) state capitalist economy which offers extensive social services.in lieu of the democratic operation necessarily intrinsic to anything properly called a socialist economy.

      Reply

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