First of all, I want to thank all the people who in one way or another helped us get through this emergency. From Rodrigo who provided the transportation to take my mother-in-law to the hospital to her relatives who sent money to help cover test, supplies, food, and other expenses; to Jakelyn, a niece of hers, who offered to stay last night so that my wife and I could stay home and rest a bit.
There were also some patients and their relatives, who provided some moral and material support at the hospital. Uninterested generosity can still be found (we know that from Hive). There were of course some exceptional members of the medical personnel who did their job, even if blurred by the long waits, the precarious conditions under which patients (and their relatives) have to be very very patient, and the mediocrity and lack of professionalism of most medical staff in this hospital.
We got surprising shows of affection and support from people who we had not heard in while from, but they heard about our predicament and sent help. To them, our eternal gratitude. They are miracle makers.
The very first night at the ER, we witnessed the desperate cries of a young couple (they looked like teenagers) for the loss of their 5-month-old baby. In tears, the mother cried that "that doctor killed my baby." Cases of malpractice are an every-day occurence here, but there aren't any legal mechanisms to protect the victims of medical malpractice.
I can undertsand the great odds doctors and nurses are fighting against whenever they have to save lives almost without resources. The problem is that you will not see them refusing to work under those conditions. Aparently, because of the nature of their profession, they are supposed to just serve, in silence, resigned, and careful not to make their employer (the government) look bad with public displays of discontent.
That silence, along with the complacency every time a politician publicly states that tons of money have been invested in improvements at the hospital, is what makes them complicit of this humanitarian crisis.
Anyway, the good thing is that our story, so far, had a happy ending. My wife's mother survived. She is back home and after her shocking experience, it is my hope that will listen to us now so that she can avoid another visit to that madhouse we call hospital.
There were many incidents yesterday that made us had additional arguments with the medical personnel. The most dramatic one happened early in the morning. I arrived at about 7 so that my wife would come home and rest. She wanted to wait until the doctors did their morning inspection to hear about diagnosis, recommendations, and treatment from them (we had already given them the lab test results). At that moment a young man, in his twenties, was being brought on a stretcher. He was having a respiratory arrest.
Nervous doctors and nurses were running back and forth, relatives were crying, and all the other patients' relatives saw in shock how we were removed from the room to let this emergency be treated right in the middle of four patients who had just suffered heart attacks.
Thank goodness, my wife's mother took it easy. She is usually so sensitive and nervous that whenever it rains hard, she goes into panic mode. It was a miracle she controled herself, especially considering that this young man died a few minutes later and his body was left in the room for almost half an hour, next to her bed, without even a curtain to separate them.
We witnessed then the distressed and heart-broken relatives stormed in the room to cry for their loved one. We felt pain, anger, and frustration. We understood this family's pain, but we could not believe the medical staff managed that emergency so unprofessionally.
They argued with us about their rationale. That was the wing for that kind of patient. The thing is that on the other wing there were empty rooms where they could have tried to safe this man's life without causing so much panic among the other patients and their relatives. At the end of the day, we were wrong. They knew what they were doing, even though there were cries of "they killed him. They waited till the last moment to treat him."
Same story, different characters. Even asuming those lives could not be saved or that there was no medical negligence, there were obvious issues with the protocol, if any, they followed.
There was also a woman, who needed a CT Scan, but the hospital did not have the equipment. Their relatives had to take her to a private clinic; they had to procure transportation since the hospital does not have ambulances either. It was a nerve-racking experience to see how they moved that patient, who was intubated, into an elevator her relatives had to call out (yell aloud, "8th floor please!").
That's what we have here, and we are supposed to be content. We are supposed to accept that within our reality that cannot be changed and one should not complain.
I had to run many errands too. During one of my walks out of the hospital (to get some food for my mother-in-law in the afternoon, after they finally told her that she was allowed to eat--obviously the hospital does not provide food for any patient) I stopped by these tents. They were identified as ACNUR donations (? I guess).
I noticed a girl walking behind me. She was wearing some sort of nurse or medical student uniform. I asked her if she worked at the hospital. She said, yes. I sked her then if there was anything going on inside those tents, what were they being used for.
She said there were people working there, those in charge of the Covid-19 testing, etc.
I got closer and looked inside. They were empty. They looked like abandoned storehouse or something like that. Some ragged disposable robes were hanging here and there, the were pools of water on the floor. Noothing was going on inside. No personnel, no equipment of any kind.
And then I go upstairs and see a doctor, who by his demeanor must have been some kind of authority, displaying a clean robe (most doctors I saw wore old and dirty looking robes) with a very cynical message on the back.
I could not resist turning it into a meme.
-"Dr. What do I have to do to believe that message on your back?"
-"You have to do this. Hit yourself hard, right here."
The robe reads: "HEALTH Power Venezuela"
What we experienced and witnessed is just the tip of a nasty iceberg. Limited as our experience was, it represents a very revealing evidence of the level of deterioration of our heath system. So, for a government propagandist to prance around in front of people who attest every day how far we are from being any kind of model or power force in health-related service or any other service for that matter, is a cynical provocation.
It is my hope that the good people who still live and act, making it possible for "miracles" to still happen, can work together the greatest of all.