Today we ventured to a new area of the Buenos Aires province, the municipality of Tigre. This region is mostly comprised of islands that resemble a tiger from an aerial view, giving it the name Tigre. Our first stop in Tigre was at the docks where we boarded a medium-sized boat to go to a health post located within the islands. After a scenic boat ride, we arrived at the clinic.
The location was a small house that from the outside you would never guess to be a primary care facility. Once we entered, I was impressed to see how nice the facility was compared to my assumptions. They had a full staff and all of the facilities and tools a clinic could need. When we were there, our guide talked a lot about the structural problems of the public healthcare system. Specifically, she explained how complicated it is to access the patients on the island given the geography and tides of the region. Additionally, this access issue applies to all other levels of care such as access to pharmaceuticals and hospitals. Even with these obstacles, the clinic seems to do relatively well and serves as a vital pillar in the Delta Tigre community, as it is the only option that many of those people will ever have for healthcare.
Following this, we had a delicious lunch on the water. Once lunch commenced, we had a few minutes to explore the Tigre artisans market. Here I was able to get a purse the souvenir for a friend and I got a leather pencil case for my art supplies.
Once the shopping was done, we went to the Tigre Municipal Hospital. This is the only hospital owned by the municipality of Tigre and it serves a population of over 450,000 people. The hospital specializes in OB/GYN practices as well as some pediatrics. Their goal is to provide total care for mother and child. This visit was really special as we got to see the neonatal unit. The babies were so small and peaceful and the hospital setting they were in was beautiful and seemed to be state of the art, especially in their birthing practices.
What sets Tigre municipality apart from other locations we have seen is that their system is focused on primary care rather than hospitals. I believe there are two reasons for this difference from the rest of the country. One reason is it Tigre is a very rich municipality. Is the wealthy vacation like area outside of the city so there are high levels of income coming in. Having these high incomes attribute to more taxes which would allow a municipality like this to be able to take financial risks such as setting up primary care facilities to see if they function well for the area. Another possible reason for primary care emphasis is a necessity. A lot of the people in the Delta Tigre region on the islands have little access to care and are far away from the hospital in case of an emergency. This makes preventative care much more important because you are more likely to receive treatment before an issue in order to prevent it than to be able to make it to the hospital in time if something occurs. Additionally, this emergency style of care is not feasible to provide to all the people within the islands as they must be reached by boat and the income level is low. Primary care is a perfect solution to this issue because it is easy to have in small areas on the low budget, reduces costs long-term, and it is based on prevention which is important to people who have struggled to have access to things like emergency rooms and hospitals. Being able to prevent medical issues at a lower cost is a win-win situation for both the consumer and the government that is providing healthcare. It leads to a healthier population and a cheaper public healthcare system to maintain, especially in the long run.