Just north of Buenos Aires lies a small town with streets not only on land but water and a healthcare system specific to the area. After seeing other primary care facilities in Pilar, I noticed similarities, but also a very different structure of their operations. First of all, we arrived by boat. We later learned that they even have a boat ambulance to meet their needs. The center was small, offering two consultation rooms and a room for dentistry, but had similar offerings as the previous places we toured. Today, they were even without power and were carrying buckets from the river to power their bathrooms. Despite the problems of the location, it does present opportunities for people living nearby for easier accessibility than far-away hospitals. However, the physician mentioned that it is typical to only have one or two patients a day, while bigger facilities on the mainland are expected to see six or seven patients an hour. For example, the whole time we were there, only one patient came and went.
As a primary care facility, emergencies are not the specialty and they work mostly to support preventive care measures and educational programs for families. On the wall, we noticed the contraceptive information available as unwanted pregnancy is a common issue here. The unique system is that the information that they track through electronic medical records is connected to all the other 22 centers in Tigre, including the 2 hospitals. That way, if a situation were to worsen, the information is already there for another center to take action. This system is connected to a telephone operator who will connect the caller regarding health concerns to the appropriate facility to be treated, similar to our 911 but only for health care. Despite the intricacies, it was emphasized how they really do accept all and follow the wishes of patients in their practices.
Back on the boat, we were able to explore more parts of Tigre, such as a cute river-side street, a delicious restaurant for lunch, and the Tigre artisan market. I wish we could have spent more time shopping because each vendor had very unique and creative designs. Yet, then it was time to see a public hospital for the first time in Argentina. Interestingly, this public hospital specialized in mother and child-care. Keep in mind that this type of hospital is still connected to the primary care center we saw earlier as the records are communicated between the two to track the patients and their needs. At risk mothers during pregnancy, for example, are ensured that the hospital treats them instead of the small center. Actually, the records at the hospital are all inputted manually as they have yet to develop an automatic system.
For background, the hospital sees about 5,000 birthing patients per year. The facility was very big and clean with a lot of natural light making it comfortable for patients and their families. They carry a perfectionist mentality because of the great responsibility they have working with newborns. We toured departments such as labor and delivery, pediatrics, and neonatal care unit. Here, the average age of pregnancy is 18 years old with the youngest being 12 and the oldest 49 years old. Because the hospital is specialized, there is actually a high percentage of teenage pregnancies at 26% here.
Due to the relative wealth of Tigre, the hospital has many resources which they obtain through the public sector. The national government provides the majority of supplies, such as through Project REMEDIAR, however, the municipality is responsible for more of the specialized needs. They house pharmaceuticals in the hospital through a central system making their accessibility to drugs easier as they have a mass supply at once, however, this still requires filling out prescriptions which can be meticulous.
Overall, it seems as though this system that focusses on primary health care has many advantages as it leads to less issues later on when cases are more severe. It also offloads the demand of hospitals for more specialized care. Keeping track of patients overtime is another useful strategy to prevent further problems and help families live healthier lives. There is greater accessibility opportunities, which is necessary in a place like Tiegre that offers many different landscapes and economic situations. Although the public system is complex, I am beginning to understand how it can be used throughout the regions of Argentina.