Hospital Angeles Is Disgusting

[Fulano’s note: The following is an op-ed piece written by Teresa Gurza on Hospital Angeles del Pedregal, located in Mexico City. The hospital was built by Humana, Inc. as the first hospital chain in Latin America. Two years later it was acquired by Mexican businessman Olegario Vazquez Rana. Since 1996, the hospital has been operated by Groupo Integrante Angeles which operates a chain of private hospitals. Fulano has translated the article from the original Spanish, which can be read here.]

First place for my New Year’s resolutions: never to return to Hospital Angeles del Pedregal. And I advise that you do not either, because it is so inefficient and dirty it is incredible that it has official permission to operate. I know what I am talking about because I was a patient there for five days, and this is the story about what happened.

Hospital Angeles del Pedregal, Mexico City

The doctor said I should present myself for admission at 6PM on Monday, December 6. We arrived at 5:45PM, and we waited for more than an hour in a drafty and freezing hallway, until one of the four employees responsible for this process became available, which process lasted for another hour because the person who attended to us had no idea what was going on. I was asked seven times for general information and other things which erased itself from the computer, “we changed the system and I don’t know how to use it,” he said.

Not until shortly before 8PM could we get our room; after a short while a half-wild nurse, without surgical gloves, pricked my vein to draw blood and put on serum. As she could not find the vein, she stabbed me again in the shoulder. Barely covered with a thin blanket they took me for x-rays in an elevator which, according to the orderly, was “for dirty laundry and garbage because others take too long.”

In spite of the fact that I was to fast from six in the afternoon, at 9:30PM they brought me dinner of two flaky, greasy empanadas of ham and cheese, orange juice and a glass of milk. I was prescribed to take a laxative at 7PM, another at 9PM and 11PM, but as they failed to bring me the 7PM and 9PM dosages, at 9:45PM they gave me two glasses together and another one 20 minutes later; you can imagine that I felt like a bomb went off in my body. They claimed they were changing shifts, everybodyl passed the ball over who was responsible for what happened.

At 10PM, nurse Esmeralda gave me an antibiotic, an hour later she was going to give me another and when I asked why so soon after the last one, she said I better had not take it because she was sure the doctor was wrong since they were to be taken every eight hours. I asked her to consult the doctor, and she soon returned with the news that I should take it, to which I refused. I had instructions to take the same antibiotic at 6AM, an hour before surgery, but it was not given to me. They also did not remove my nail polish so I went to the operating room with pearly feet.

The bathroom was very filthy, and the walls of the shower had mold and black spots. And don’t even mention the phone cord. In all my time there none of the nurses wore gloves, not even even to adjust the toilet or measure urine, the only person who I noticed comply with standards of cleanliness was the one who removed the catheter, and did so hygienically and with admirable precision.

The corridors of Hospital Angeles del Pedregal, where patients and staff walk, are carpeted, and everyone moves dust and microbes from one place to another. And the drugs are carried from room to room in nurses’ hands or the pockets of their not very clean uniforms, and not in cups or dishes. Not one of the nurses washed her hands in my presence, nor had antibiotic gel in the rooms, and when I asked why, they replied “it is not our standard to have it.”

Several nurses were dirty, and the nurse on the morning shift on Saturday, December 11 smelled awful. My discharge was delayed several hours because, according to this nurse, the doctor signed it in the wrong place and they had to collect his signature again. And the discharge instructions had errors because it required I take antibiotics every two hours, when it should be every 24 hours, and they also “forgot” to give me the last dose of medication.

We were more than five hours standing in front of the cashier waiting for the bill. Given the slowness, we went without paying, and we paid the following Monday. They still have not provided me with the results of several tests, among them the chest x-ray “because we have lost it.”

For all these reasons, I think that was the last straw with Grupo Nacional Provincial, which offered as an option to the holders of its premier policies, whose prices are among the highest in the market, care in a hospital as poor as Angeles. Even worse, is that the Minister of Health of President Calderón allows it to operate, being that it does not meet the minimum sanitary conditions.


Report: Mexico’s Disabled Live In Squalor, Vanish

Article from The Washington Post

MEXICO CITY — Mexico has done little over the past decade to improve the squalid living conditions of mentally disabled adults and children who are in institutions, an international advocacy group charged Tuesday.

Patients are tied to wheelchairs, walls of shelters and institutions are stained with feces and pools of urine cover the floor, and children and adults often scream in agony and confusion. the Washington-based Disability Rights said.

Its report added that some patients have even disappeared.

The group visited 20 shelters, orphanages and mental health facilities over the past year to follow up on an investigation it conducted 10 years ago that exposed widespread abuse and inefficiency in Mexico’s system of caring for its mentally disabled.

The first report provoked outrage and the government promised to make changes.

Pools of urine of the floor of the Ocaranza
Psychiatric Hospital, Hidalgo, Mexico

A decade later, little has been done, said the report compiled with the help of the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights. The two groups visited private and public institutions that allowed them access in Mexico City as well as the states of Mexico, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz.

Institutions still have little government oversight, the report said. Some patients have disappeared from the system because of shoddy record-keeping as they were transferred from one facility to another.

A Mexico City woman described her struggle to track down her granddaughter, who was 6 years old when local authorities claimed she was being abused at home and needed to be placed in foster care in 2005.

“What can I do? The authorities don’t want, can’t or don’t have an explanation for me,” Ardelia Martinez Estrada said in Spanish at a news conference. She was finally granted custody of her granddaughter, Ilse Michelle Curiel Martinez, in 2007 and maintains that her granddaughter was not abused.

Eric Rosenthal, the director of Disability Rights International, said researchers asked the Mexican government how many people were in institutions and how many might be unaccounted for but they were given no figures.

“I would encourage you to ask the government that question because we did and we did not get answers,” he said.

The report said that at one facility for girls, the staff did not know the names, ages or the reasons why some of the patients where there. In another case, researchers found two women who grew up at an institution who are now working there without pay. No record of their internment exists, according to the report.

Some patients are held indefinitely because they don’t have relatives to claim them or their families can’t find them, Rosenthal said.

Mexico is one of the many countries that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006 and will now have to respond to the allegations in the report, Rosenthal said.

A spokesman for Mexico’s Health Department did not immediately return a call for comment.

The groups are calling for a moratorium on the institutionalization of children and say more mental health funding is necessary to treat people in their communities instead of sending them to facilities.

The groups showed a video of a clinic where patients walked around nude and rolled around in their own urine. Some walked back and forth aimlessly and others poked their eyes and bit their fingers and their hands.

Rosenthal said part of the problem is that Mexico’s system to care for the disabled is decentralized and it is sometimes unclear who is responsible for ensuring that people are treated humanely.

One facility acknowledged it had lobotomized four patients in the last four years, the report said.

“It is as if time has stood still at these institutions,” Rosenthal said, noting that some of the patients he met at some of the worst facilities a decade ago are still there, suffering the same abuse.

The report tells of a man and a woman tied to wheelchairs 10 years ago who are still receiving the same treatment.

“I can tell you that the sounds of the people screaming and children in the institutions still haunt me after a year of visiting countless institutions and seeing hundreds and hundreds of people whose lives have been thrown away living in these atrocious conditions,” he said.

[Fulano’s comment: Long-term psychiatric hospitals in Mexico are called “granjas”. “Granja” literally means “farm.” More than a few Mexican businessmen are trying to jump-start the establishment of senior care and congregate care facilities for retired and incapacitated Americans in Mexico. What a great way to cheaply take care of mom and dad, if you happen to hate them.]