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Old Sunday, May 16th, 2010, 05:23 PM
doctorv doctorv is offline
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Default Re: Hospitalized in Aruba...Have no fear!

Well, I am not sure I would "have no fear".

Although parts of the medical establishment are very efficient (ie the emergency room when it is not particularly busy), and care is certainly less costly than in the US, the hospital in Aruba is certainly no model of excellent and efficient health care delivery.

As a bit of background I was born on Aruba but practice medicine in the US. I do not expect that a small island would have the ability to provide a full complement of subspecialty care- although Aruba does not fall short in that respect in that there are many subspecialty services available.
What I would expect is that it provides adequate general medical care and that is what I have been sorely disappointed over.

My father was recently hospitalized for over a month.
During that time his care has been extremely variable, ranging from excellent to embarrasingly deficient. Of note, most of the physicians we have dealth with have been excellent although actually getting to see or speak to some of them has been like pulling teeth. During a holiday weekend, four days passed without so much as one of his docs peeking into his room. When he asked his nurse about medicines which he was supposed to have received hours earlier his nurse told him (with quite an attitude) that "they are understaffed and he should not expect to receive anything on time". Various pieced of machinery have malfunctioned for days (literally) before being replaced or fixed. When I expressed my concern that a particular piece of equipment was not functioning as it should (a drain was plugged and the nursing staff was interpreting this as "improvement in drainage" and the treating physician which had not seen the patient in days was making treatment plans on this supposed "improvement") and I requested to talk to the doctor on call- I was told by the doctor to "make an appointment to speak to her"- this after her breaking an appointment to come see her patient that particular day.
I could go on with examples like this till I'm blue in the face.
The physical plant is also in very poor shape- flaking paint on the walls and ceiling, mold in the corner by the AC vents.

On a particularly disturbing note I overheard two guards commenting on on-call physicians arriving at the hospital visibly drunk ("fuma fuma" in his words)- I fully admit that this is hearsay, but it was not particularly comforting knowing my dad was potentially depending on these folks.

On a positive note, many individuals on the nursing staff were friendly and competent (just extremely overburdened most of the time). The physical therapists in particular were a delight to deal with. The hospital seemed well equipped with much of the latest technology- on par or better than similar sized hospitals in the US. It's a great shame to me that where this all breaks down is the "human factor" and the apparent lack of adequate funding.

Do I think that all care is necessarily bad here? No.
But would I recommend this hospital to someone who did not absolutely need it? Absolutely not.
Would I admit any of my family there if I had the ability to have them treated at almost any other hospital in the US or Western Europe? No way.

I guess if I had to sum up my experience at the hospital in Aruba it would be "disappointing".
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