My Father’s Accident

Osmel Almaguer

Fructuoso Rodriguez Hospital. photo:

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.

2 thoughts on “My Father’s Accident

  • I also add my wishes that your father will recover soon!
    This incident reminds me of a similar incident which happened with my grandfather. He, too, could not survive on his social security pension, so he raised chickens to sell eggs and meat. One time, when he was decapitating a particularly onnery rooster, it fluttered up as he was about to chop off its head and the hatchet took off my grandfather’s thumb, as well as the rooster’s head! For years he kept the thumb in a bottle of formadahyde above the mantle. Also, he was fond of playing that trick on small children where, by a certain slight-of-hand, the thumb on one hand seems to disappear. In this case, the thumb actually–and really–did disappear! Although I was only five or six years old at the time, it made a lasting–and life-long–impression!

  • I work in health services administration here in Canada (Quebec) and I can say that health services in Cuba is quite good comparing to ours. To be honest, many experts would say that if you can choose where to be sick, you better choose Cuba. You guys have very talented doctors and nurses who don’t only work for the pay, but because they believe in the importance of what they do.

    Some of our hospitals are so discusting that sometimes it’s quite scarry to enter and wait for hours to see a doctor, because you can get out being more sick than when you came in (bacteria, virus, etc). Many employees of our health services don’t really care about patients…Fortunately, we also have engaged nurses and doctors (and other professionals too) who care about what they do.

    I wish that your father will get better soon.

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