A comment thread from John on a recent post, leads me respond at more length than a comment can handle. In his most recent comment, he chose to call himself “John retired U. S. government”. It is interesting that he choses too change his name from John to one saying he worked for the U.S. Government and yet enjoys criticizing one of its most important resources the U.S. Government has in Panama.
Not often, but sometimes, there are comments that come to Chiriquí Chatter from disgruntled U.S. citizens that are unhappy with where their country is going. They may be disgruntled because problems they have found living in Panama.
Sometimes it is because of not having the U.S. Embassy do things the way that they think it should be done.
I have met with two such U.S. citizens (both men over 60) who had come to Panama and married a young honey 1/3 to 1/2 their age and wanted to take them to the U.S.. It may have been to live or just for a vacation. When their new spouse was denied a visa, they wrote me and were very irate.
What they didn’t realize was that their new spouse may have left out a few details of her life, prior to him, and the Embassy discovered it. The Embassy would not discuss the case with them, which also made them mad. While I understand their frustration, I also understand the visas being denied.
John is here to complain and this time because of the Embassy requirement for a bank check for payment instead of accepting cash. He states that the Embassy should have known about the bank’s requirements or limitations for issuing a check.
The Embassy can only give its requirements. It was determined that it was not safe for Embassy personnel to carry large sums of money and they were instructed they could no longer do it. Now you would think that John, being a 35 year U.S. government employee, would understand receiving orders and obeying them.
What banks in Panama do and the Panama Government does is not under the Embassy’s control.
John chooses to use sarcasm, knowing full well my name is not Donald, and saying I am misguided. John is confused. Donald is name of the fellow hoping to reverse the current direction of the U.S.
I have to assume that John is wanting credit for serving in the Military. I assume he served in Viet Nam. During the Viet Nam War, I was working for McDonnell Aircraft Company in advanced design for the Phantom 4K (one of the most sophisticated aircraft of that era) and on the U.S. Gemini project. Both projects required a Secret Clearance, which I held.
I have a hunch John would have been challenged doing the work I did. Maybe not. However, working in the work I have done doesn’t make me great and serving in the military doesn’t make an individual (even John) great. Most of the people I have known, who have served the U.S. in uniform, are proud of the U.S. Embassies and are willing to lay down their lives for them. They don’t go around bad mouthing them. However, they may have been “misguided”.
I worked nine years in the Washington D.C. area for EDS. I often say that that time gave me plenty of experience to understand why my taxes were so high and why I felt that I received so little benefit from paying the taxes. Still, while the U.S. government isn’t perfect, it still is the best form of government going.
John says I have a bias against the Panama government and healthcare. I have no bias. However, I do feel that there needs to be plain talk about what people are going to find, if they move here to retire. You can get very good healthcare in Panama, if you can afford it. If you can’t afford it, you will go to a public hospital and hope for the best.
I just looked back over some of the cases I have worked on, meeting patients in the David Regional Hospital for the Embassy.
I had one person that was in the hospital because he was hit by a car crossing a street in David. The social worker called me one morning asking if I could come to the hospital and tell the patient that he needed to leave because the hospital needed the bed.
I went to the hospital and the patient could barely talk. He was still in pain. I had the Embassy talk to the social worker and she was asked what their plan was. The social worker told the Embassy that if he didn’t leave, they might be forced to put him by the side of the road. The Embassy staff person asked if that was the same thing that would happen to a Panamanian. I didn’t hear the answer.
I left thinking he was going to be transferred to Mae Lewis, a private hospital. He had the funds to pay for private care, but was taken to the Regional, because most accidents are taken there. I got a call at 6PM by his landlord saying he had been brought home and he couldn’t talk. Lilliam and I went to his house and called 911. He died while the 911 attendants were trying to stabilize him to return to the hospital.
In my mind, he died because of the doctor that instructed the social worker to have him released and the social worker following her instructions. I am confident he would not have died in Mae Lewis.
There were two more patients I met in the Regional Hospital who had been transferred from Hospital Chiriquí after they had run up bills of $40,000 and had run out of funds. Both died after a couple weeks stay in the Regional Hospital.
Another person I met had been transferred from the Interior of Panama to the Regional Hospital after falling. He didn’t have insurance and this was the only trauma hospital that could take him, even though it would have been closer to Panama City’s Santo Tomás. He also didn’t leave the hospital alive.
I believe the Regional Hospital does the best they can with what they have and there is a tremendous amount of construction going on at the Regional Hospital to serve more people. There are a lot of good people working there, but the staff is stretched to its limit, from what I have seen. I will still say that I would want to go to a private hospital as my first choice.
I feel fairly confident that Marion, my friend that was shot and left for dead in Potrerillos, would not have survived had she not been fortunate enough to be admitted into Mae Lewis.
On another occasion, there was a U.S. citizen that was in need of surgery and his son came to Panama to see him. The Embassy asked if I could assist, as the son did not speak Spanish. After being here a few days the son needed to return to the U.S. and I took him to the hospital to say goodbye.
When we got to the hospital, I was told he could not be seen. I said it was important for the son to talk to him because he was returning to the U.S. and it might be his last time to see him.
The nurses started making calls, because they are usually helpful when I hand them my Embassy introduction letter. They finally came out and gave the son and me masks, gowns and gloves to put on.
We visited the father and after I left, I learned that the ward had a bacterial resistant virus and it was not safe to be there. Sometimes my not willing to take “no” for an answer puts me in places I shouldn’t be. It was good that he got to see his father because he only lived a few days after having surgery.
Because of volunteering for the Embassy, I have had the occasion to meet a doctor in one of the local clinics that always complains about freeloading and indigent U.S. Citizens that expect free healthcare from Panama. He always says he can’t understand why the Panama government allows these type of people to come here. He always says this in Spanish assuming I don’t understand.
Now this is not a criticism of the healthcare system, but it is a criticism of this particular doctor. In both cases he implied that he would treat the patient if they made an appointment at Hospital Chiriquí (I assume this is preferable because he wanted more pay).
Still, I agree with him in that no U.S. citizen should plan on coming here and taking advantage of a public healthcare that is intended for caring for the people of Panama. None the less, his attitude was not one of a doctor I would want in control of my life.
I have visited U.S. citizens (both men and women) in Chiriquí jails. I have had experience with the Panama judicial system,
Everything I write is from personal experience and I would characterize my self enlightened as opposed to misguided. John chose to try to insult me by his “draft dodger” and “robot” comments. Well done John. You are a class act.
To those that came here today wanting to see a feel good post about Panama, I apologize for letting John piss me off. I normally ignore comments from small minded people, however today the wind was in the right direction and he insulted an organization I watch go beyond the call of duty on a daily basis. I am proud of the U.S. Embassy in Panama and proud to be a volunteer supporting them.