Just for Mummies / Rosa Maria Rodriguez

Alberto is a carpenter from Guanabo who had an operation on a growth on his neck. He says the surgery was a little complicated and so he has to put gauze with iodine and alcohol on the wound to prevent it becoming infected.

A couple of days ago, logically following the hospital’s instructions, he went to the polyclinic in his coastal town — the one where he is registered — which is on 5th between C and 496. At the emergency room they said they couldn’t see him because they had nothing to treat him with. Worried, he tried to persuade the nurse who was there; he showed her the cut under his ear and said it had to be cared for daily. He also explained that the operation was deeper than the surgeon expected and even reminded her of Hugo Chavez himself in an effort to convince her.

Due to his insistence, the paramedic took him to look in the glass case where they keep the medicines, bandages and things used for these cases and showed him that there was only one small roll of tape on one shelf. The healthcare worker was concerned that if someone came in from a knife fight or an accident, there wouldn’t be anything available to treat the wound.

Now, concerned with this logic the ailing carpenter must face the inconvenience and stress of traveling the 16 miles every day between Guanabo and Havana in the filthy, late and always packed urban transport to be seen in the same hospital where the surgery was performed.

He knows that there are other clinics he could go to, but beyond the propaganda statistics, the habitually overinflated success figures, and the misleading baptism of being a “medical powerhouse,” he is reminded of the helplessness he felt in his neighborhood, and he imagine every one of the “people’s” clinics will have the same scarcities and lack of hygiene and prefers “not to risk his neck” in those “empty slaughterhouses.”

7 May 2013

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