More About Some of Ecuador's Healthcare

Trip Start Sep 26, 2009
Trip End May 10, 2015

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Friday, September 23, 2011

Here is something important to know that I posted in my last blog entry just for a day or so.  I removed the paragraph's because I started to have some doubts as to the accuracy of the details because of something I heard after I posted.  But here it is revised, coupled with more of my own experience:

Was sick with a mild cold that turned into a severe chest cold and then an infection.  When I started coughing uncontrollably Fred asked our neighbor if she could write down what was wrong with me so he could show it to a pharmacist.  Our landlord John then came downstairs and tried to help with the translation.  Then the three of them proceeded to walk down to a nearby pharmacy while I stayed in bed.  This pharmacy is owned by a doctor that John's mom has been seeing for some time.  Turns out that many of the pharmacies are either owned by a doctor or have a hired doctor on hand.  These pharmacies are actually mini clinics.  A regular doctor's office with a regular waiting room sat behind this pharmacy's counter.    So, if you are sick with a cold or flu, just show up -- no appointment necessary -- and the doctor will see you.  Just be aware of siesta time.

(There is a large pharmacy chain called Fybeca, many of which remind me of the Walgreen's in the States, even selling food and appliances.  I don't know if those chain pharmacy's operate in the same way.  There are also some very tiny pharmacy's that may or may not have a doctor practicing on the premises.--A very tiny pharmacy down the street from us does have a doctor on hand--he told us a visit was $7.00.)

Anyway, the pharmacist there, or whatever she was, gave Fred some all natural cough syrup derived from ivy, (no sugar, alcohol or colorants) for me to take every 8 hours and a powder to take in water, every 12 hours, both tasted pretty good. She told Fred to take my temperature to check for an infection and if I did not have one, I should feel better by morning. I had no temperature and I did start feeling better.  But a few days later I started to go downhill. We live, more or less, on the outskirts of Cuenca, but once in a while we will hear the ambulances go by, which got me thinking that I just might be hospital bound, as this was sure turning into a doozy of a cough. 

Two weeks or so after this first began, I felt the worst.  At around 6pm in the evening Fred told me to get dressed, I needed to see a doctor.  Doctor Parra, the doctor I saw for my thyroid, is in a different part of town, and a little bit more expensive.  So Fred took me to see the doctor in that same pharmacy where he got the all-natural cough syrup.  We didn't walk, but instead took the short bus ride because I was feeling pretty lousy. There were three patients ahead of me, it was about a 15-20 minute wait.  The doctor was pretty busy that evening as there was a steady stream of patients, after he saw me.  In fact, he still was seeing patients at around 7:30 pm, we could see that because we had to pick up a few groceries next door.

He was a handsome doctor either in his mid to late 40's and did not speak any English, but between one of my iPhone apps and the little Spanish that I know, we did okay.  He felt some pressure points in my throat and eyes which was totally new to me, along with the usual routine, took his time and did not rush. He said I had an infection, although he did not use the word for pneumonia, said that it was important for me to stay in bed for three days and not allow myself to get cold or walk around on the tile floors without shoes.  Asked if I was allergic to anything, then made a phone call and asked us to wait in the waiting room until he could get someone over there who spoke English.  He really wanted to make doubly sure that I understood perfectly how and when to take the medicines.  Some other patients there tried to help out with the English as well. The pharmacist or technician too wanted to make certain I understood, and wrote out the times to take the meds on each of the boxes, even though the doctor wrote out the instructions on a piece of paper.   While waiting I coughed like crazy, so was given a hot orange-flavored drink -- another medicine I was also sent home with  -- so, 3 meds in all, an antibiotic, of course, a high dose of ibuprofen and a cough medicine.  The total bill was $22.00, doctor's visit included.

We took the short bus ride back home, it was 7:30pm or so; took the meds and for the first time in what seemed like an eternity, I slept the entire night without coughing. 

There was no receptionist and the doctor himself called in each patient. It wasn't a fancy office or waiting room either, by any means, but quite adequate and a good experience for me.  In the States I could never get in to see my doctor when I was sick with a bad cold or flu because it always took a month or so to get an appointment!  Oh yes, there is always the emergency room -- if you can afford it.  So, I am a bit confused here as to who lives in a third-world country? Why health care has to be so expensive in the States, or even hard to receive at times?

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Jeanine Cockrell on

Ya know, I've been wondering that same thing...who really lives in a third world country?! Here is my experience I had at Parkview Hospital Emergency a few weeks ago...I went there for my eyes, I knew I had pink-eye and had to go there to be seen. The nurse took all my vitals and info and put me in a room where I waited for 30 minutes for the doctor to come in.(Don't ask me why it took so long because there was only one other person that was being taken to a room when I got there, and it was during the day). She spent maybe 3 minutes with me, prescribed the ointment for my eyes, which they gave me there, and I just got the bill today....$479.65! Thank goodness I am on CICP and my portion is $22.00. But reading your blog makes me think you got more bang for your buck!! LOL So glad that you and Fred are getting good health care there! Thank you for all the updates you guys :)

Shane Harris on

Sorry you got sick, Laura. Not fun dealing with an infection. I hope it wasn't pneumonia. Sounds like you are being treated appropriate. Would like to visit but likely will not happen this year. Susan and I enjoy your blogs.

ken laughlin on

Hi all, I just read about your sickness, I hope you are feeling better now, here in the states they are now giving Flu shots, do you have Flu shots their or do you take them at all? The Flu season is just around the corner, I hope Mari and I do not get the flu at all. It sounds like the doctor visit was very quick and did have very good results. Mari is soon going to retire, maybe in November, Jessica and Daniel are going to move to Parker Co, she got a new job, it has to do with VEIN removal, its by lazer. She likes it very much and they like her a lot, she is working here in Pueblo by Parkview hosoital. She needs a new start and an a new town if you know what I mean. We will be taking her their tomarrow, saturday, to check it out. I guess you heard we are going to split the Gongregation again, this means we will have 3 halls now, they are getting some publichers from sunset, pueblo west North, and Florence Cong, to make up the new one. This will ease some of the over fill in the other Cong. Everything is split up, where the publichers will go, new boundries, were the new Elders will go and the Min servants will go. The circuit overseer sent it to the Socity for approvial, you kinow the cong number and name. So now Mari and I will be both retired, and I hope finally free? Keep your fingers cross Ha Ha. Maybe we can get down their and see you, and show us where you live and the surronding areas, It will be nice to take another vacation? Well nice to here from you Both, Mari and I sent our love to you.

Take Care and May Jehovah Bless You

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