We spent the morning today organizing, reviewing and analyzing our notes on what we’ve observed at Casa Maria. It’s a difficult process because we go through each observation, line by line, trying to figure out what we’re really observing and if we’re missing anything. It was our first day doing this so it was like pulling teeth for our Gero Research group as none of us has had experience doing this type of research. Watching people is easy, but narrowing down what you’re actually looking at and looking for is much harder than you think.
After lunch, everyone in our Gerontology group (11 of us plus 2 professors) took a tour of Hermano Pedro here in Antigua. This is a renowned hospital for the poor in Guatemala that is know for giving amazing care to people of all ages and a major place for medical missionaries. The absolute highlight of the tour occurred at the beginning when the guide was giving us an overview of how the hospital works. A man with Down’s Syndrome approached our group and walked to me, opened his arms wide and gave me the warmest hug. He did the same to my friend Amanda, then walked away without saying a word. I like him so much!!!
Hermano Pedro Hospital works with people on a sliding scale and accepts donations for care if people can give them. We encountered patients with no last name, who had been dropped at the doorstep of the hospital and no known origin. The senior center was cute, and seemed to be a better environment then Casa Maria, but with far fewer patients. The room with the kids was shocking as they were all laying in rooms of cribs that looked like metal cages, many of them too long for their beds, and some were contorted in all sorts of ways to fit in them. It was sad to see, but this place is supposed to offer some of the best care in the country… shocking.
After getting over the “cages”, Hermano Pedro seemed to be a good place with a school for the children, carrying staff and volunteers, and a lot of resources that were mainly the result of donations. At this point, I’m not sure what to think about anything here that one would consider unacceptable or neglectful in the U.S. Things here are different and much of what we see here is simply more visible and extreme than in our country. However, I think we probably have just as many people who are poor, hungry, neglected, or underserved. We all just tend to look past it or push it to a different neighborhood. Here though, it’s all out in the open, and there’s a greater disparity between the poor and middle class, so it’s much more obvious.