HAVANA TIMES — The receptionist at the polyclinic kindly explained to me that the ultrasound request I’d brought had been filled out incorrectly, for, according to her, it wasn’t possible to examine the liver, gallbladder, bladder, kidneys and biliary tracts in a single ultrasound procedure.
I would have to go see my nephrologist (who sees patients every fifteen days) and ask her to fill out several ultrasound requests. Then, I would need to come back to the polyclinic and make different appointments for the different ultrasounds, which would be separated by roughly a month each.
All of this left me bewildered. The waiting time for these procedures would also be coupled with the bureaucratic delays involved in the transactions between polyclinics from different municipalities.
Luckily, our family is friends with a doctor who always helps us whenever we run into such problems. I don’t like to depend on these types of “contacts”, but, sometimes, one doesn’t have any other choice.
While waiting for the ultrasound, I read the note our doctor friend wrote: “Patient with nephrocolic of the right kidney….,” a string of technical jargon indicating the size and characteristics of the kidney stone.
There are about ten other patients waiting around me. Those who’ve gone in haven’t taken longer than ten minutes to come out. It’s a relatively quick procedure, so I don’t understand why one has to go through so much to get an appointment.
I know that most of the ultrasound machines at the polyclinics around the municipality are broken (in Alamar, there’s only one that works). I know this equipment is expensive and difficult to repair. I also know that Cuba has a much harder time getting its hands on this type of technology than other countries. Most importantly, I haven’t forgotten all medical attention is subsidized by the State.
I know all this, but, even so, I have to say things aren’t working as they should, that there’s too much red tape and that run-of-the-mill citizens still get too much of a run-around to get certain healthcare services.
I am not an economist or a doctor, so I don’t have a solution to this problem. I am merely a young man who, for the time being, has a friend who helps him in these situations. But what about those who don’t?