Bolivians pushed from pillar to publish as Covid-19 overwhelms hospitals

Bolivians driven from pillar to post as Covid-19 overwhelms hospitals




a person sitting on a bicycle: Photograph: Aizar Raldes/AFP/Getty Images


© Supplied by The Guardian
{Photograph}: Aizar Raldes/AFP/Getty Photographs

Within the two weeks earlier than he died from suspected Covid-19, Grover Ponce was shuttled between six hospitals, as his spouse Paola Medina battled the labyrinthine paperwork of Bolivia’s well being system.

Simply days after he was lastly admitted to the Santiago Segundo hospital within the metropolis of El Alto, he needed to be rushed to intensive care. However by then it was too late. He suffered two cardiorespiratory arrests and died on Sunday.



a person sitting on a bicycle: Health workers prepare to help a patient allegedly infected with the new coronavirus, who was found in the yard, get on a wheelchair, in the Clinics hospital in La Paz last week.


© {Photograph}: Aizar Raldes/AFP/Getty Photographs
Well being staff put together to assist a affected person allegedly contaminated with the brand new coronavirus, who was discovered within the yard, get on a wheelchair, within the Clinics hospital in La Paz final week.

“I might say 1,000,000 issues, however nothing will convey again my husband,” stated Medina, 41, her voice breaking as she spoke by cellphone from the crowded essential cemetery in downtown La Paz.

“Clearly, I really feel very, very offended with the well being system,” Medina stated. “They’ve made it so laborious – and there are lots of folks like me who didn’t know the place to show.”

Ponce’s demise, and his spouse’s determined efforts to avoid wasting his life, have resonated with Bolivians as their nation’s well being service buckles underneath a surging coronavirus caseload.

The every day variety of new circumstances peaked on Thursday because the nation of 11.5 million folks reported 75,234 circumstances and a couple of,894 deaths – though consultants suspect the true determine is way greater.

A particular police unit has collected greater than 3,300 our bodies from their properties or left mendacity on the street, about 80% of whom are suspected to have been contaminated with Covid-19.

“Typically the sufferers are already useless once they arrive,” stated Norma, an emergency nurse in certainly one of La Paz’s essential public hospitals who didn’t wish to give her second identify. “We really feel powerless – we will’t give them oxygen as a result of there are such a lot of who want it. To see them die like that’s simply terrible.”

Norma, a mom of three, stated she was obliged to proceed working although she had examined optimistic for Covid-19. “Eighty per cent of us have to be contaminated by now and the worst is that we’re going residence and infecting our households,” she stated.

In desperation, many Bolivians have turned to do-it-yourself quack cures resembling consuming chlorine dioxide, a poisonous disinfectant, to deal with the virus. The nation’s well being ministry warned towards it, however final month Bolivia’s opposition-controlled congress promoted the chemical and the senate accredited a invoice for its provide and manufacture.

Presidential elections, first slated for Could, have been postponed for a second time, which is able to depart Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Áñez, in energy till the tip of the 12 months.

Associated: Is Bolivia’s ‘interim’ president utilizing the pandemic to outstay her welcome?

Áñez, who this week introduced she had recovered from coronavirus, has been in workplace since late final 12 months when Evo Morales was compelled to step down amid electoral fraud allegations and fled the nation.

“The transitional authorities has been landed with a extremely poor well being system, with out financial assets, with out tools, with out hospitals and with out human assets,” stated Dr Luís Larrea, president of La Paz’s chapter of the Bolivian Medical Affiliation.

The area of La Paz had simply 74 intensive care docs for greater than 2 million folks, he stated.

“They’ve made museums, they’ve made grand buildings for leaders however they didn’t take into consideration well being,” he stated.

When Ponce, 42, a driver with the La Paz native authorities, first visited a state social safety clinic complaining of a fever and a cough, he was advised he had a chilly – although such signs ought to have set off alarm bells.

The daddy of three, described as cheerful and charismatic by his colleagues, tried one other hospital, then one other the place he was examined – however advised the outcomes would take every week to reach.

In a fourth hospital a “speedy take a look at” for the coronavirus got here up detrimental however an X-ray of his lungs confirmed his situation had worsened gravely, Medina stated. Docs really useful he be admitted instantly however there have been no beds.

“We didn’t know the place to go. We have been calling and calling however there was no area wherever!” she remembered.

“We went by means of probably the most horrible night time attainable. We didn’t have oxygen!” As her husband gasped for breath, her brother managed to purchase an oxygen cylinder nevertheless it ran out at 2.30am.

Because of a name from Ponce’s boss, he was lastly admitted to a public hospital final week. However his situation scarcely improved as he waited days for a plasma donation from recovering Covid-19 sufferers.

Medina went on social media to plead for plasma donors. She obtained a number of replies – however some would-be donors needed a whole bunch of {dollars} for his or her plasma. Lastly, two got here ahead who needed nothing in return – however the blood financial institution’s assessments and permissions took days.

“To today we’re nonetheless ready … my husband is now not with us, and I nonetheless don’t have a solution,” she stated, overwhelmed with exasperation.

Lastly, on Sunday, an intensive care mattress grew to become accessible in El Alto, and Ponce was transferred – however he died hours later.

“He was my life associate,” Medina wept. “We’ve been by means of many issues; good and dangerous, we’ve been capable of get by means of them, after which, rapidly, he’s gone.”

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