Well being care system “collapse”: Docs, consultants sound alarm over Puerto Rico’s medical system

Well being care system “collapse”: Docs, consultants sound alarm over Puerto Rico’s medical system

Within the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which hit in 2017, Puerto Rico’s public well being care system was flooded with individuals in want.

now, Hurricane Fiona is predicted so as to add to the island’s well being care disaster. About half of the individuals dwelling on the island is determined by the general public well being care system. And native officers say federal funding gaps have led to workers shortages and lengthy wait occasions for sufferers.

Specialists say Hurricane Maria uncovered an already deteriorating system.

“Should you ask all of the gamers inside the well being care system, sufferers, suppliers and directors, they are going to all agree … Maria simply confirmed you what is occurring, however the system collapsed manner earlier than that,” stated Nelson Varas-Diaz, a researcher at Florida Worldwide College who oversees research assessing the state of well being care on the island.

Varas-Diaz factors to debt as a motive for the collapse.

“The collapse is brought about primarily by debt and the financial disaster in Puerto Rico and historic privatization of the well being care system there. Our analysis exhibits sufferers are ready for six to eight months to get an appointment with a specialist. If that is not an indication of collapse, I do not know what’s,” stated Varas-Diaz.

Dr. Edgar Domenech Fagundo, an ear, nostril and throat specialist in Ponce, Puerto Rico, would see 30 sufferers a day when he began training in 1999. Greater than 20 years later, that quantity has about doubled.

“The common I see is anyplace from 50 to 60 sufferers a day each time I am within the workplace,” Fagundo stated.

His schedule is so busy he cannot see any new sufferers till March of 2023. He stated the delay can probably have life-threatening results on individuals.

“The longer individuals wait, their prognosis will get delayed. And so issues like most cancers and different diseases, you wish to deal with them early in order that sufferers could have a greater probability of remedy,” stated Fagundo.

Dr. Carlos Mellado, who turned Puerto Rico’s well being secretary a yr in the past, stated there are solely 17 neurosurgeons in Puerto Rico — for a inhabitants of three.2 million individuals.

Nicole Damiani’s husband, Carlos Rivera, was hospitalized earlier this month after he fell on the ground and had a seizure. He needed to wait eight days earlier than he noticed a neurosurgeon. Carlos had bleeding and swelling on his mind.

“It is actually arduous to discover a neurosurgeon right here in Puerto Rico. And it bought to some extent the place I actually low-key gave up on life,” he stated.

One of many causes it was so arduous for Carlos to search out medical care is that many Puerto Rican docs are transferring to Florida the place the pay is considerably higher.

Registered Nurse Gielliam Elias, who has been a nurse at Centro Médico de Puerto Rico for 19 years, rides her son’s bicycle to her work as a result of she cannot afford a automotive. She stated her bi-weekly test is about $891 and that it isn’t sufficient for her household to dwell on.

Even those that are simply going into the sphere say they’re apprehensive about the way forward for well being care in Puerto Rico.

“We take a look at the circumstances round us, the issues that docs inform us, our personal professors, members of the family which may be in drugs. We hear continually concerning the issues which can be dealing with the island. And simply inside three years, we’d must make that fateful choice the place we both keep or we depart, and it is not fully beneath our management,” second-year medical scholar Carlo Bosques stated.