How Important Is Being Able to Speak Spanish In Panama

Well, it might be as important as life and death. A patient I have been monitoring, entered the Regional Hospital on October 19. Unfortunately, in his admitting records, his being a diabetic was never recorded. So for over 3 weeks, he has not been given a diabetic diet.

The admitting doctor speaks only Spanish. The patient speaks only English. Not being able to speak any Spanish is not just inconvenient, it is dangerous.

I was asked by the family to check his records. Saturday, I was able to verify that this critical information was not recorded and I had the records changed to show that he is diabetic. Since medical systems are not computer based, some hospital personnel still had not gotten the word and mistakes were still being made as of this morning.

I plan on visiting with the director of the hospital and requesting that their admitting procedure for non-Spanish speaking patients be amended to insure that language is not a problem. Even if the process is amended, it is not a sure thing it will always happen.

Remember that 99.9% of all patients here speak Spanish. Therefore, I believe it is the responsibility of the patient or family to make sure all medical history is correct during admission. This is going to be difficult, if those with the knowledge can’t communicate in Spanish.

It is easy to blame a hospital when errors are made. However, blame is not going to save anyone’s life.

Nine, Ten and Eleven

Friday, Tom McCormack brought not one, not two, but three containers from the United States to assist the needs of the residents of Chiriqui. The trucks were met by about 60 volunteers to unload the contents and take them into Gimnasio Municipal Pedregal. I think at least 6 gringos assisted in the unload.

I had another appointment at nine and didn’t get there until ten and the last container was just getting finished. Sorry, I was late, but I did get photos to show what had been accomplished.

Tom spends all of his time providing for the medical needs of his adopted province of Chiriquí. You might say he carries the people’s needs on his shoulders. When the trucks had been unloaded, the volunteers raised Tom on their shoulders as a sign of respect for all that he does.

Tom spoke to all of the volunteers and thanked them for helping him help the people of Chiriquí. He told them that if they had family in need that they would be at the front of the list for these resources. He also told them that nothing would be given out without him personally verifying that there was a valid need. Tom has been her long enough to know that some who will look at this as an opportunity to get something to sell and not for Tom’s intended purpose.

The amount of items that arrived this time is just mind boggling. Tom told me the prices of some of the items and, in US dollars, the items that were delivered in these three containers would be well over a million dollars.

I took this panorama photo as I entered the gym.

Click to enlarge

Following is a photo gallery. You will see diapers, wheelchairs (manual and battery powered), hospital beds, walkers, crutches, prostheses, and much much more. Thanks Tom for all that you do.

Koki News

Last week, I noticed that Koki has gone completely deaf. I am not sure what has changed or caused it. I noticed that she was not responding to commands.

Also she would always be waiting at the door for me to come in. Not now because she doesn’t hear me coming.

I can tell she is depressed and confused because she doesn’t understand it. She can now not be allowed to go out of the house without a leash. She would not hear a car and get run over.

I am taking her to the veterinary tomorrow and hope he finds some physical problem.

Potrerillos Public Safety Advisory

I received the following from Potrerillos Neighborhood Watch Facilitator:

Public Safety Advisory

Potrerillos has experienced two serious vehicle related accidence involving pedestrians who were hit by passing cars, one of the victims is dead and another is in a David hospital on life support,  plus another smash and grab at El Terronal Mall to report.

On the date of 26-October-2012 at approximately 10-AM a pedestrian was hit by a passing car near the village of Acequia just below Potrerillos. The incident occurred when the victim described as an 83 year old Panamanian man who was possibly collecting aluminum cans on the edge of the roadway was struck and killed by a vehicle operated by a 28 year old Panamanian man from Potrerillos Arriba, this according to Law Enforcement Authorities from Dolega. No additional details or vehicle description was provided however it was believed that excess speed was a factor.

Next incident, Continue reading