A View of Cusco
Since it’s America Day, I thought I would write a blog post about privilege. While I ate Doritos, deviled eggs, ice cream, macaroni and cheese and hot dogs today, I thought about some of the experiences I’ve had here that have made me both terrified and very appreciative. Here is one story:
Our volunteers have been in community for a few weeks now and, since then, I’ve spent a lot of time at the hospital. So far, we’ve seen one orthopedic injury that required surgery, one case of salmonella, a handful of gastrointestinal infections, the case of Giardia that I suspect I am currently suffering and, a few nights ago, a miscarriage.
Now, when our volunteers get sick we call our regular doctor, he makes a home visit and we pay him $25. When someone requires extensive treatment, we go to the fancy private clinic here in Cusco. When one of our volunteers broke her foot, she stayed in a suite, nurses changed her sheets every morning, staff slept on the couch under a heavy wool blanket and we all watched cable television for a few days. It was boring, but not terrible. Doctors let us ask questions, we got lists of the medications. I was allowed to watch the surgery and even got to keep a pair of scrubs. It was not a bad place, relatively speaking, to spend a few days. And the grand total? For two patients, seven nights in the hospital, one surgery and a pharmacy’s worth of medication, we only paid $1,024. To me, this seems like a pretty good deal. I could come to Cusco for all of my medical needs. This is pretty cheap, considering. This, however, is way more than the average Peruvian can afford. As I’ve mentioned before, life in the communities surrounding Cusco is hand-to-mouth. There is no real disposable income. So when most Peruvians get sick, they don’t get taken care of at the private clinic. So where do they go? The regional hospital, which is where one of our Peruvian colleagues had to go when she had a miscarriage the other night. Continue reading