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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

    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.

    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.

  • 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?

  • 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!!

  • 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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