By Jorge J. Muñiz Ortiz |
San Juan (EFE).- Months and up to a year to obtain a medical appointment and long hours of waiting to be seen in the consultation are just some of the problems suffered by patients in the collapsed health system of Puerto Rico, deteriorated by the exodus of doctors and the influence of insurers.
As the independent legislator and doctor José Vargas Vidot, and the president of the College of Surgeons of Puerto Rico, Carlos Díaz, respectively expressed to EFE in separate interviews, on the island “there is no health system” or it is “disorganized.”
“When we talk about a country with a health system, in Puerto Rico we cannot speak or even mention that, because that does not even exist in title,” said Vargas Vidot, a member of the Senate Health Commission and founder of an organization that helps drug addicts
“The system is disjointed and disorganized”
Díaz, for his part, described the health system in Puerto Rico, where 15 years ago there were 19,000 doctors and currently there is an average of 10,000, as “very fragmented, very disjointed and very disorganized.”
According to this 30-year-old cardiologist, part of the collapse of the health system on the island occurred in 1993, when Pedro Rosselló, also a doctor, began his first term as governor of Puerto Rico and decided to privatize the health centers. health.
“That system collapsed, it was eliminated. Pedro Rosselló was warned, and the system became political. Instead of providing the service to the patient, it became one of political benefit,” recalled Díaz.
Prior to Rosselló’s time in office, Guillermo Arbona, a former Secretary of Health, had created a project to regionalize the health system into three levels of health care service in each of the seven regions of the Department of Health.
“It is not glorifying the past system, but this began to deteriorate when the attraction was not that people were healthy,” said Vargas Vidot.
The control of the insurers
Díaz criticized the insurers as being guilty of the collapse of the health system because they “control the system, control the economic part and provide medical controls.”
According to Díaz, the insurers decide the payment rates of the doctors for their services to the patients and even determine which medicine the doctor should prescribe to the patient depending on the coverage they have.
“Who then dictates the pattern in the system? Me or the insurer ”, he questioned him about this situation, which has also been decisive in the exodus of Puerto Rican doctors to the United States.
Given all this, the House of Representatives proposed a measure that seeks to create a national health plan, in order to transform the Puerto Rican system into one with universal access and coverage, but the Department of Health rejected the initiative.
Citizens suffer the collapse of the system
The precarious health system in Puerto Rico not only affects and worries the medical class, but also patients, who sometimes have to wait a year to obtain a medical appointment with a specialist or to undergo surgery.
“Puerto Rico’s health system is useless,” citizen Jissette Pérez Díaz, who accompanied her sister Jessica at the University Hospital of the San Juan Medical Center, told EFE, where part of her kidney had been reconstructed.
Jessica was hospitalized for four days and, in that time, Jissette testified that in said hospital the elevators do not work well and the bathrooms are in depressing conditions, among other problems.
“There are four patients for a single bath. The nurses try to do their best, but the health system in Puerto Rico does not really work well,” Jissette explained about the sanitary conditions in said public hospital.
Hospitals have also recently suffered from blackouts caused by hurricanes or electrical system failures and, in some cases, their operation was seriously affected as emergency generators also failed.