Wow, I can’t believe it is already day five here on my journey through Buenos Aires. Today we visited a local posta sanitaria and a palliative care center in the municipality of Pilar, not far from the capital city. The posta sanitaria is essentially a primary care center that is free to the community; this particular center is run by the Austral University. They offer many basic health needs to a community that would otherwise not have access such as basic nurse consultations and medications. While the posta is staffed and funded by Austral, it acts as a public center in the sense that they can call public ambulances and doesn’t require patients to have insurance coverage. It truly is wonderful what they can do for the population not just in care but also in health education. Basic health advice most of us would consider common sense, say the importance of giving kids boundaries, are spread on posters throughout the clinic to help the community learn these important skills that they otherwise would not develop.
The visit to the hospice center was particularly profound for our group. Dr. Matías Najun did a great job of explaining what it is that they do at the Good Samaritan Hospice and why what they do is so important. So many families and individuals view hospice as something that is needed when there is nothing else that the doctor can do or when all hope is lost. This misconception can often lead to unnecessary pain and suffering that could have been avoided with the help of hospice care. At the Good Samaritan they treat both symptoms of the patients, but also their psychological and spiritual health. On average patients that receive hospice care live three months longer than their counterparts due to their higher quality of life in their final days. This was quite evident based on our tour of the building. One of the current residents, Beto, greeted us with a smile on his face. He made sure to shake all of our hands, and when he got to me he looked me right in the eyes and told me “te bendigo”. It struck right to my soul. Here is a man staring death in the face spending the time to tell me with a conviction that I have seen few times in my life, that I am blessed. That is an honest moment that I doubt I will forget for the rest of my life; it was simply too real to leave my brain.