For his retirement, my father receives a monthly sum of about 600 pesos (about $24 USD). As everybody knows or can imagine, such an amount isn’t enough to take care of all his household needs each month.
As he always wanted us to live in a house with a fairly large yard, and because he loves to do carpentry work, he took advantage of the space where we made home and built a small workshop next to our house. In it he repairs furniture and makes simple items that bring him in some additional spending money.
But last Friday my father had an accident when he tried to cut a piece of wood that was too small, one that was too difficult to work. The piece slipped causing his left hand to get caught in the teeth of the saw.
Unfortunately I wasn’t there when all this happened. I only found out later that night, around 8:00 when I got home. Thanks to one of my uncles who has a car, I made it to the hospital.
I found my father there unconscious, still out from the anesthesia. Though the operation had been a “success,” he lost his ring finger. Later another one of my uncles, the one who had rushed dad to the hospital, apprised me of what had happened.
When my father showed up in front of him with his hand drenched in blood, my uncle took off like a shot in search of a neighbor who had a car. They took dad to the nearest polyclinic where he spent three hours waiting for an ambulance, since there was only one for the whole municipality.
It was then that they admitted him to the Calixto Garcia Hospital, which — though located in the Vedado neighborhood — is the one we residents of East Havana are assigned. It’s a shame it’s 12 miles from our house.
It’s a filthy place. You can even see cockroaches scurrying through the corridors. Fortunately they re-admitted him in another facility, this time at Fructuoso Rodriguez, which specializes in orthopedics. It’s the best or one of the best in the country – according to my uncle.
Now five days since the accident, my father’s still in the hospital. The reputation of this second hospital isn’t unwarranted. In addition to good doctors and very professional nurses, they have compassionate staff, clean and comfortable rooms, and if it hadn’t been for a thief who stole all the televisions in the hospital, they would have a TV set for every four beds.
It’s clear that our health system has many defects. I’d dare say that at this point it has more defects than virtues. However this particular hospital seems to be an oasis in the desert of decline.