Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Reflections on health care and attitudes in general


Today we visited the hospital again. A few things that stood out:

-The smallness of hospital rooms
There is not much space in some wings of the hospital. I thought about how hard it would be to have so little space.

-Lack of resources and equipment
They have only the necessary equipment. No extra helpful things. No balls or wedges in physical therapy room. No warming blankets in the recovery room. They had only the necessities, none of the "luxuries" that we have in our hospitals.

-The respect the hospital has toward people with disabilities.

For the first time, I saw a doctor who has a visible disability. Dr. Federico Montero, who is a quadriplegic, holds a high-ranking position in the hospital. His opinion is obviously respected and valued. I've personally never seen a doctor in the U.S. who publicly shows his or her disability. Dr. Montero has done a lot. He has spent three years in Switzerland, working on a project for the World Health Organization and is also a disability rights activist. Yesterday, he gave a long talk about how society's attitude is the problem, and how medical professionals generally don't respect their patients with disabilities.

There are also able-bodied professionals in the hospital who work to promote disability rights.

It is so good to see people with disabilities being respected here in Costa Rica. This respect has been a common theme in Costa Rica. An obvious example is the contrast between the taxi challenge here versus in Houston last week. In Houston we experienced repeated rudeness, not wanting to take my chair in an accessible cab if it required any adjustment to their usual way of doing things, an astonishing apathetic attitude about just not showing up for a scheduled appointment, little concern for my safety, and on and on. In San Jose the other day, our cab driver Minor waited and problem-solved helpfully with us for two hours without a single complaint.

Costa Rica may not have the accommodations of the U.S., but their attitude is more advanced.


Luke said...

That's something I would not have expected without being told. It bodes well for the Costa Ricans. Sounds like you're having a fantastic time!

Axistive said...

It's a real shame the two things can't come together. With American funding and the open and accepting attitude we could make a hospital that really was accessible. I hate to see a good attitude going to waste like that.

Ruth said...

I've heard this before from friends who've traveled - that sometimes where the accommodations are not as good as the US, the attitude toward accommodating pwd is much better. One person described it as a "given" - people know there aren't ramps so we have to help wheelchairs get inside and think nothing of helping out. When I asked if it was done in a way that made him feel powerless, he replied no it was done where I was treated with dignity and compassion - it just wasn't a big deal.

Such interesting posts, thanks...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're having a wonderful, and insightful, time! I'm glad you're able to post updates - it's nice to hear what's happening as well as learn of the the fantastic people you've encountered. Sounds like we could learn a lot from our neighbors!