Bolivians pushed from pillar to put up 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


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{Photograph}: Aizar Raldes/AFP/Getty Photos

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 forms 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 Photos
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 one million issues, however nothing will convey again my husband,” mentioned Medina, 41, her voice breaking as she spoke by telephone from the crowded major cemetery in downtown La Paz.

“Clearly, I really feel very, very indignant with the well being system,” Medina mentioned. “They’ve made it so exhausting – and there are various individuals like me who didn’t know the place to show.”

Ponce’s dying, and his spouse’s determined efforts to save lots of his life, have resonated with Bolivians as their nation’s well being service buckles beneath a surging coronavirus caseload.

The every day variety of new instances peaked on Thursday because the nation of 11.5 million individuals reported 75,234 instances and a couple of,894 deaths – though specialists suspect the true determine is far increased.

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 lifeless once they arrive,” mentioned Norma, an emergency nurse in one in all La Paz’s major public hospitals who didn’t need 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, mentioned she was obliged to proceed working although she had examined optimistic for Covid-19. “Eighty per cent of us should be contaminated by now and the worst is that we’re going house and infecting our households,” she mentioned.

In desperation, many Bolivians have turned to home made quack cures equivalent to 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 authorized a invoice for its provide and manufacture.

Presidential elections, first slated for Might, have been postponed for a second time, which can go away Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Áñez, in energy till the top of the yr.

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 yr when Evo Morales was compelled to step down amid electoral fraud allegations and fled the nation.

“The transitional authorities has been landed with a very poor well being system, with out financial assets, with out gear, with out hospitals and with out human assets,” mentioned 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 individuals, he mentioned.

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

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 instructed 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 instructed the outcomes would take every week to reach.

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

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

“We went by way of probably the most horrible night time doable. 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.

Due to 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 acquired a couple of replies – however some would-be donors wished a whole lot of {dollars} for his or her plasma. Lastly, two got here ahead who wished nothing in return – however the blood financial institution’s exams and permissions took days.

“To at the present time we’re nonetheless ready … my husband is not with us, and I nonetheless don’t have a solution,” she mentioned, overwhelmed with exasperation.

Lastly, on Sunday, an intensive care mattress turned obtainable in El Alto, and Ponce was transferred – however he died hours later.

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



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