Tuesday, September 18, 2012


So, for those of you who don't know, Nicaragua used to be a Communist country and still holds on to some communist/socialist views.  Like what?  Like socialized medicine.  Now, you are probably thinking that it sounds like a fabulous idea to have government-sponsored medicine.  It's like the utopian dream, right?  I'm sick, I got to the doctor: free.  Hospital stay or surgery: free.  Having a baby:  free.

I should've known something was up this whole time because EVERY TIME I got sick the brothers referred me to private doctors....who are cheap here by the way.  The most I've paid is like $20 for a specialist.  But I always wondered, "Why are they not recommending the miracle that is socialized medicine?!"  Well, today I found out why.

Most of you have heard me talk about my student Hazel.  Well her little girl, Nageli, was admitted to the hospital last Friday because of constant diarrhea and vomiting.  Here, that's a big risk and a common problem.  Because of the heat, a simple thing like diarrhea or vomiting can easily lead to dehydration and kidney problems.  Therefore, you often see people hospitalized for this issue.  I decided to visit them today and saw firsthand the differences.  I was also rudely reminded that yes, I truly live in a 3rd world country ("developing nation" for all you PCers).

Basically the hospital provides a bed, a nurse and doctor, and medicine.  Everything else....EVERYTHING ELSE is up to you.  Like what?  Well, I'll describe what Hazel told me today.  They had to bring their own:

  • clothes for Nageli
  • diapers/changing supplies
  • toilet paper, soap for the bathroom
  • meals/drinks for Nageli
  • seat so they could stay and monitor their baby
  • sheets for the bed
  • fan (yep; no AC)
  • wipes for bathing

What other differences are there?

  • There's about 8 rickety beds in every room and the nurse comes in only 3 times a day to check on them.  There is NO handy button in case you have a complaint or emergency; you just better hope someone is there with you to inform the nurses.
  • Cats and dogs roam freely on the property and in the rooms
  • Privacy act?  What privacy act?  Your diagnosis, name, age, and weight are written largely on the foot of your bed.
  • Spending the night?  You'll be in a metal foldout chair....that you yourself brought
  • Need a bathroom?  There's 1 per courtyard...that's right, I said courtyard, not room

Let's just say my day ended with a very long and very soapy shower while whistling the tune "just in case." The only thing that sets my mind at ease is knowing that just outside Managua there's a private hospital called Vivian Pellas set up Western-style...AC, robes, bathroom, extra nurses and all :)

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