By Safie M. Gonzalez
HAVANA TIMES – If there’s one thing they tried to drill into us many years ago, it’s that all Cubans are equal, that there is no “difference between social classes” in our country, and that both healthcare and education are the Cuban people’s universal right. This is a principle that many generations of Cubans have grown up with.
Of course, reality is far-removed from this theory. I can’t talk about healthcare systems in the world, as I’ve never visited another country, although I am aware that there are public and private hospitals, but anyway… just like the Hippocratic Oath says, a doctor has the obligation to see and give first aid to anyone before them who needs it, even if they then decide they need to be sent to another health center.
I’m giving you this little introduction so I can tell you about something that happened to a friend recently. She happened to be very sick, she had blood poisoning because of a medicine she was taking for another ailment. She clearly didn’t know she was allergic to it and her body began to break out in a rash.
Doctors immediately thought that it was a case of dengue fever, but she kept getting worse. They decided to do emergency blood tests at the health center nearest her house; the results showed some imbalances and the doctor on call that day (who was very helpful and concerned, my friend tells me) decided to send her to A&E at the nearest hospital, that’s to say, the Dr. Carlos J. Finlay military hospital, in the Marianao municipality.
When she got there, she was checked over by a resident in Internal Medicine, who checked her symptoms and took a look at the test results that she had. The first question he asked my friend was if she was a member of the military, and she isn’t of course, but given the fact it was an emergency (as I’ve already explained), this was the nearest hospital.
The young doctor’s first thought was to keep the woman under observation, but he said he had to first check this over with the specialist on call. He left the room and came back 10 minutes later telling her that he was very sorry, but they couldn’t take care of her there, as she did NOT belong to this hospital, and that she should go to health clinic on 26th street.
There were no words… Her father, who was with her, got really annoyed and didn’t leave until he had expressed his disappointment in this terrible assistance. My friend is better now. A friend who works at another hospital checked her out, gave her the proper treatment she needed, but… where is this equality? this “excellent” medical assistance that we boast about and preach to the world?