Día Cinco: Beauty at Every Stage of Life

Our day began bright and early as we headed to Austral for a morning lecture on the levels of healthcare coverage in Argentina. After the lesson, we got our first exposure to the public system where we attended the Posta Sanatoria, a free clinic that also doubles as a community center to its neighborhood.

There, they have many colorful posters that explain basic physical and mental health practices to anyone who visits. What stood out to me about this clinic is that the doctors train members of the community to be teachers about health issues. This allows them to better educate the community because the information comes from someone who the people feel comfortable with rather than a professional they may not trust.

We then went to the Tomas Reccio clinic which is run by Catholic sisters and provides a variety of care to the community, including dentistry and vaccines. Here, they are proud to have the highest vaccination rates in all of Pilar. We also encountered a special treat of visiting the adorable school children. They had quite the sense of humor in testing our Spanish speaking skills, as they would tell us they were 25 years old, named butterfly, and ate brains, assuming we did not know what they said and we would just go with it.

After a quick lunch of empanadas, we drove to Good Samaritan Palliative Care. They taught us their mission of providing holistic care and comfort to those with incurable illnesses. The topic was heavy but easily balanced by the beauty of their actions and outlooks on the end of life. Death tends to be a very taboo and avoided topic of conversation. This avoidance leads to ignorance of the needs of those at the end of their lives. This was a very touching experience overall that made me reflect on the death of my grandfather. I am very grateful for the perspective my family had on death during that time, as it resembled the viewpoint of the staff and volunteers at Good Samaritan. Instead of a somber funeral, we had a beautiful and lively celebration with family and friends as we ate my grandfather’s favorite foods while listening to his favorite music, all at his happy place. It was a celebration of a life well lived rather than an illness that had won.

My personal experience and my experience at Good Samaritan has inspired me to a degree. One statistic that was mentioned is that the United States is the most comprehensive provider of palliative care in the world, and yet only 30% of the population knows what palliative care is. As someone who aspires to market healthcare as a career, I now see the need for palliative care education for the general public and believe that I could personally help further change the stigma about incurable illnesses and death back in my home country.

¡Hasta mañana!

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