Did Covid-19 and Government Crash the Healthcare in Bogota, Colombia?
July 26, 2020
The news announced on July 16, 2020 that the healthcare system in Bogota, Colombia collapsed. I had a front row seat. Will not tell you what stupid thing I did to end up in the hospital emergency room with about 30 other people in three different rooms. A nurse told us they were filled. Later our insurance told us not a single free bed existed in the city of over 8 million people.
As they moved me around triage, tests and different doctors all employees wore personal protection equipment (PPE). The masks, face shields and outer garments were not uniform leaving the possibility that some employees may supply their own style of PPE. However my belief is the hospital offered different styles to fit employees needs and preferences.
This was not my first trip to the emergency room of this particular hospital. However there were fewer people in emergency than on previous visits prior to the pandemic. New was a triage tent outside the hospital. Guarded by police officers, the small structure sat first thing in the entrance through the metal bar fence.
An attendant standing outside the tent took a glance at my injury, ushered me inside and put me immediately in room with medical personnel ready to assess the damage. They did a peripheral clean-up of the wound then called in another person. Photos were taken, a better cleanup made and the injury wrapped to stop the bleeding. Now came the contacting of the insurance company and specialists.
My wife stayed with me in the waiting room. We spent the night waiting for a decision from the insurance company, had x-rays and EKG taken then watched the bandage keep filling with blood. Morning arrived with no word from the insurance company other than a call saying they had no beds available in the city. The specialists doctors declared my condition as needing emergency surgery. By 9:30 A.M. I entered the operating room. Noon found me in recovery with a relieved wife, prescriptions for pain pill and antibiotics, the knowledge I would pretty much be out of commission for four to six months plus orders to go home only after paying the bill.
Because the injury was of my own making I had a co-pay. The amount came to less than what one month of insurance would cost most Americans.
Leaving, the waiting room seemed to have all the same people who spent the night there. Nurses and assistants monitored their blood pressure, dispensed medicine and served food. As the cases of Covid-19 in Colombia hit over 204,000 on July 21 on a curve rising at a steep angle Aljazeera News wrote Medical workers in Colombia call for a full lock down. What we do have for Bogota are rolling lock downs lasting until August 23, 2020. That is coupled with pico y cedula. What that means is the last digit of you National ID determines which days you can shop at large stores and enter banks.
Collapse of the healthcare – has me a little baffled. In my experience the hospitals in Bogota are always full. I can remember once sleeping on a guerney in the hall for four days and sharing a hall bathroom with 10 other patients in the same condition. Another time 48 hours passed in the waiting room sleeping in a chair before they could find a bed.
My experience is only with two hospitals and there are many more in Bogota. Other hospitals may be different. Perhaps the government is using a criteria of counting only intensive care unit beds for the Covid-19. Either way, I am thankful this time and previous times for their service. That doesn’t mean though there isn’t more to the story than what my view allows me to see. And it certainly doesn’t dismiss the fact there is room for massive improvement in many areas.