A Naked Man in Front of Calixto Garcia Hospital, a Stark Image of the Chaos In Cuban Healthcare

“Is he sick? Has someone brought him to be taken care of?” inquired an old man without getting an answer. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 19 January 2023 — A half-naked man lying on the pavement was the first thing to be seen by those who approached the Calixto García hospital in Havana this Thursday afternoon. The sad “reception” was just a preview of what they would see inside a room packed with patients, with employees shouting rudely to try to organize the chaos, and doctors who can barely prescribe medicines as they are not available in any pharmacy.

“My China, you can’t be there!” A hospital worker warned an elderly woman who was on crutches and was waiting for the result of a blood test in a broken tone. “Get up because you can’t stay here if you’re not from this area!” The employee insisted the lady move from the waiting room of the urology clinic to the main area, where all the seats were occupied.

To one side, the hospital cafeteria made it clear on the menu that it is a “third category” service open 24-hours-a-day. “Give me an empanada because everything else is very expensive,” complained another patient who was waiting to be treated for fever and a severe headache. “Don’t even ask for the fried rice, it’s half raw,” advised another customer of the diffident business, who had been disillusioned having paid 100 pesos for the failed recipe.

The sad “reception” was just a preview of what they would see inside a room packed with patients. (14ymedio)

“Next!” yelled a young woman who had just come from seeing the ENT. A man helped an elderly gentleman up from his seat and two other patients ran for the position after several hours on their feet. After a few minutes, the boy and who looked like his grandfather left the consulting room. “They have prescribed him dipyrone [Metamizole], which is not available in any pharmacy,” the young man warned, “all this time here for nothing.”

When leaving through the main door, both had to avoid the naked man who was still lying on the ground, hindering the passage of ambulances and the movement of patients. “Is he sick? Has someone brought him to be treated?” inquired an old man without getting an answer. The sun beat down over the thin figure on the ground, who no one approached, while the bustle from the interior of the building was heard from outside. “I don’t want anyone in this area who doesn’t have a consultation here!” a rude employee yelled.


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