Adventures in Argentinian health care

I still have stitches in both eyes from corneal transplants a few years back. I knew there was a pretty good chance a stitch would break and need to be removed at least once this trip. If it happens, according to my surgeon back in Vancouver:

“No! You cannot ‘just ignore it until you get home’ you will need to take care of it immediately”.

So, it’s immediately.

It’s easy to tell when a stitch has popped, your vision gets worse and it feels like a grain of sand is in your eye.

As far as I could figure out Argentina has both free and pay health care. The pay hospitals, for unknown reasons, are called either Italian Hospitals, or German Hospitals, or Swiss Hospitals. I’ve been walking past a Swiss Hospital on my way to and from the subway since I arrived so I went there at 8am today.

Ah, the Swiss, famous for cheese, chocolate and hospitals

My Spanish has certainly improved while traveling but my increased knowledge of ordering food and cocktails is less help here than expected.

After some Google Translate I am shuffled through several areas until I’m at a desk attempting to explain. A woman in the waiting room calls out, in perfect American English “Do you want me to translate?” There’s a God after all. She translated, in amazing Spanish. The administration person, shook her head, she translated more, the administration person shook her head more. This hospital has no eye care facility, the admin person handed me a piece of paper with an address and my translator shrugged friendly.

Swiss Hospital #1

I hopped on the subway and rode four stops to the area closest to the address I was given and started looking, around the corner I found a much larger “Swiss Hospital” and went inside. A few security guards pointed me in the right direction and I went back out into the street and a few doors down to the eye care centre. Security here directed me to the 1st floor, who directed me to the 3rd floor, who directed me to the 10th floor.

Swiss Hospital #2

A few more minutes with Google Translate and $30 later I was admitted to a waiting room. After about 15 minutes a doctor popped her head out and called “Deanne Berhain?”, apparently Deanne left already so I went in instead.

Woo-hoo, health care!

The doctor’s English was better than my Spanish, but not much. We leaned heavily on Google again and I managed to explain things. She examined the eye, froze things and started digging. Eventually she explained she could see the thread but couldn’t grab it, she said the loose stitch pulled back under the cornea and it might be fine now. I headed home with a sore eye, instructions to go back if it happens again and lots of eye drops.

Total wait once I made it to the right place: 15 minutes.

Total cost to me: $30 Canadian

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