Before we came to Peru, some well meaning people warned us about leaving the U.S. health care system. They said: “what happens if you get sick? Are you sure that you can get good medical care in Peru?” They were worried that the health care here might not be as good as we were accustomed to. In fact, one said that moving to Peru might be a danger to our health.
I was silent when I heard this
I kept silent when I heard all this. I knew things were not that great in California, and I was willing to keep an open mind about what would happen in Peru. After more than 15 years in Peru, this is my experience.
My best ever doctor
Starting off, my personal physician is the best I’ve ever had anywhere. Why do I say this? First, he really listens to his patients. He takes the time to do so—each appointment lasts 30-60 minutes and during that time he is continually asking questions and taking notes. There are no interruptions from phone calls or secretaries popping in. It is all his undivided attention. Also if you ask a question, he will take all the time necessary to answer it. You can also be sure that the next time you come in, he will follow up with every point raised before.
Second, he is extremely knowledgeable himself, but since he is a general practitioner, he will refer you when you need more specialized treatment. All of the referrals I’ve had from him have also been excellent.
Third, he is very concerned about the relation of the spirit of the individual to health so you might even get a free book on Buddhism while you are in his office.
Caring about the patient
In sum, he demonstrably cares about you as a person and works to solve any problems you may have, but also strives to make you aware of how you can live a healthier life and avoid problems in the future.
There is not a lot of fancy equipment in his office. It is minimally furnished.
Nevertheless, he has access by referral to all the medical equipment that is needed. This is the point. When you get down to it, much of the quality of health care depends on a doctor who listens, who has a solid knowledge of medicine and access to the best specialists and finally who has the ability to make a diagnosis that will address the problem.
It Doesn’t Have to be Complicated
While he doesn’t make house calls, we also belong to an organization that does. For a relatively small annual fee, this agency responds to emergencies, including accidents and illness, with a physician and several assistants in an ambulance. The response time is rapid and the service is effective.
I know that I am privileged and that there are many in Peru who still do not get adequate health care. My point, rather, is to answer the people who warned us against going to Peru for reasons of health. The Peruvian health care personnel I have met are very competent, well educated and, most importantly, very caring and concerned about the welfare of their patients.
Old stereotypes don’t work
Referring back to the warnings we received in California, I don’t think we can hold to these old stereotypes anymore because they just don’t stand up. Here’s to your good health!