Today was a very eye-opening day. We started off with a guest lecture from Dr. Fernando Rubinstein. He taught us about the general layout of the Argentinian healthcare system and clarified information regarding different types of coverage especially in the public sector. He also talked a lot about the lack of strong public primary care centers which was interesting because it related to my project topic. After that, we went to a public community primary care center which was privately owned by Austral. This visit helped to strengthen my knowledge of a possible solution to the horrible public primary care system currently in place in Argentina. After that, we drove past a public primary care center and were told about how low the standards and quality of care actually is. Then, we visited another community center which was run by nuns. This center included a primary care building and a recreation center for kids. We were able to go and tour the center where we saw kids playing at recess. Then, they were all called in for lunch where they sang us their meal prayer song before sitting down to eat. It was very fun to meet a bunch of the little kids and try to practice some Spanish with them. (They also really liked messing around with some of us when it came to our Spanish skills.) Then, we returned to Austral for empanadas.
After lunch, we visited the Good Samaritan Hospice center. While there, we received a presentation from Dr. Matias Najun about the nature of palliative care. One of the things that he said that stuck with me the most was “lives don’t end, they conclude.” This was an impactful statement for me when it comes to how hospice care should be viewed. It connects deeply to my belief that people live on past their physical life by the people that they impacted throughout their time on Earth. He also opened my eyes to the reasons people check into hospice care. I understand that it must be very hard to stay on medication and go through the pain and suffering of living with a chronic disease. Before people go to hospice, they’re dying. But while at hospice, they have a chance to live comfortably. I think that this is something very important to recognize about life and death. We had the opportunity to walk around the hospice house and we met a patient who told us he was warm and comfortable. He wouldn’t be that way in a hospital.
Going into today, I thought it was just going to be another day of site visits and activities. However, we really experienced Argentina and life from youth to near death. I think that today’s experiences are what study abroad is supposed to be all about when it comes to personal growth and bringing valuable insight about life back home with you.
Highlight of the Day: Talking with the kids at the recreation center during their lunch