Accessibility Page Navigation
Style sheets must be enabled to view this page as it was intended.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Ecuador

RSS Logo RSS 2.0
16/09/2013 08:58:04

No place like home

"I’m just a CT1 and they are all Consultants"

I was born in Quito, Ecuador where I lived and studied for my medical degree and then decided to move to London for my training in Psychiatry. So I can say that I know very well my country - especially after living there most of my life and during my medical career. But I think that you learn to know and appreciate more your own country, when your view of life has been changed after living aboard and especially studying aboard; and that is what happened to me in my last visit to Ecuador, my home country.

If I can say what the change was in this visit, I went not only for holidays to spend time with my family, but I also went to work. I thought going back to hospitals was going to be easy, but it wasn’t. My goal was to liaise with the most important mental health hospitals in the country and introduce to them our project/charity, Sud-World Project to establish a link so we can work together to meet their needs in the future.

I was really happy because the response was very good, but at the same time I was so afraid. The only thought through my mind was I’m just a CT1 and they are all Consultants.

Ecuador blog
"I think the most important change is the reintegration of the patients in the society, especially for patients that have been admitted for more than 20 years. This is the first time this has happened in Ecuador; as there still exists the concept of “asylum” or “madhouse” in the country."

In my first visit I went to visit the hospital Lorenzo Ponce, currently known as Instituto de Neurociencias, de la Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil in Guayaquil which is the most important city port in the country. I was received with great joy, but with high expectations. The Lorenzo Ponce Hospital was the first Mental Health Hospital in Guayaquil and one of the first in Ecuador, and covers around 60% of the population of the country.

When I arrived I can say I was in shock, in a good way, for two specific reasons; first the huge physical changes in the building. It was not any more that old, depressing and scary hospital, everything was new, cleaner and with new open areas, such as gardens. The second reason was because of a presentation they did about the hospital and the most important changes they have made in the last 5 years. I think the most important change is the reintegration of the patients in the society, especially for patients that have been admitted for more than 20 years. This is the first time this has happened in Ecuador; as there still exists the concept of “asylum” or “madhouse” in the country.

I had the opportunity to visit the first residential house for four women patients who were discharged from hospital after 20 years. It was amazing to see how proudly they show you their new house, and how they tell you their own stories. They remain under the care of the hospital. And this is exactly where they would like our help: how to organise a mental health care plan in the community so they can put reintegration into practice with the new patients they are planning to discharge.

On the other hand in my other visit to Hospital Sagrado Corazon de Jesus in Quito, capital of Ecuador, my impression was totally the opposite. There still exist the long admissions to the wards. Out of 230 patients, around 200 patients have been in the hospital more than 20 years and they know that place as home. The remaining 30 are the ones that have money and a place to go after discharge, such as families. Here the help that they seem to need is completely different: a new structure on the ward, new psychological inputs and a more comprehensive treatment plan.

 

Ecuador blog
Ecuador blog

"Hugging is part of their culture"


  Personally I can say that going to Ecuador was an overwhelming experience, but always in a positive way. I realised the things are missing, but that things are changing, and I got some ideas about things that we might be able to do to help immediately and in the longer term..

But the thing that I like most that will never change is arriving at a hospital where people are warm and cheerful and hugging is part of their culture. This enables you in the end to see the saddest and biggest problem in a different way, even with a smile in your face. For example arriving and a patient approaching you to say hi with a kiss on your cheek is something that I would never change
Login - Members Area

If you don't have an account please Click here to Register

Make a Donation

About this blog

Lucienne Aguirre


 


Lucienne Aguirre is a CT1 Psychiatrist