3356 Cervino Avineda
Buenos Aires, Argentina
About the Hospital
“The Fernández Hospital (Hospital General de Agudos Dr. Juan A. Fernández) is a public hospital in the Palermo section of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Originally founded in 1888 as the Municipal syphilis Hospital, it served what at the time was one of the city’s seedier neighborhoods, and was originally housed in a drab, one-story building removed from view. Operating during a socio-economic boom in Argentina, the facility was reestablished as the Hospital of the North in 1893, and began serving the general public; in 1904, it was renamed in honor of Dr. Juan Antonio Fernández (1786 – 1855), the first Dean of the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine, as well as founder of the National Academy of Medicine. The increasing demand for the facility, which prompted numerous changes and additions to the building, prompted the demolition of the older structures in favor of an 11-story, Rationalist building. Inaugurated in 1943, the new building houses a staff of 1,600 doctors and nurses, and is operated by the Municipal Government of Buenos Aires.
About Health Care in Argentina
From the Telegraph Weekly World Edition:
“Argentina does not stint on health care, spending 9.5 per cent of GDP, matching European levels. But services were badly disrupted by the financial crash and sovereign debt default of 2001-2. This is thought to account for the country losing its strong position in the continent’s health league tables. Care is generally good, but with fewer facilities in parts, particularly the poorer North. The country is adequately staffed by doctors. There are 3.2 practising physicians per 1,000 citizens. That is slightly down on Western European averages, but more than in the UK (2.7 doctors per 10,000). Private hospitals are well rated, well equipped and not seen as unduly expensive.
Health care is provided through three systems:
1. Public. Free health care for all is written into Argentina’s constitution. Standards vary, as do waiting times for consultant appointments and surgery.
2. The obras sociales, or union-backed health insurance funds for the use of employees or staff groups. There are more than 300 such health funds, with each chapter being organised according to the occupation of the beneficiary. Cover varies greatly, as does care provision.
3. Private. This covers nearly two million Argentines. They use private medical insurers. Expats report a broadly satisfactory provision of care. Private hospitals are usually better equipped and better staffed than in the other two systems.”
We took a considerable amount of time today traveling by bus from our apartment to the public Fernández Hospital in Palermo. Not that the hospital is far away, it is just difficult to access via the collective bus system. When we arrived at what we thought was the hospital (the sign on the building indicated that it was) we were greeted by a room full of people sitting in silence with one man at a desk in cage. We asked the man if we were in the right place and he told us no, we had to go four more blocks up and two blocks to the right (Frankly, we were glad to be in the wrong place as it looked pretty dismal). After walking six more blocks, we found the hospital, but when we tried to enter the front doors we couldn’t…as they were all locked and had no door handles. An old man pointed down and to the right. We walked around the corner and down a small ramp and into the building. About 20 people were standing in line waiting to talk to a man behind bullet proof glass. When our turn arrived, we asked if he spoke English…and found out that of course he did not. He called in another nurse that also didn’t speak English and we attempted to explain, in broken spanglish why we needed to see a doctor (My collaborator fell off a skateboard two weeks ago, felt that she injured her rib and went to the doctor in the US. She isn’t feeling better so she wants to get checked out again to be safe.) Apparently we were not convincing enough and/or they had more serious emergencies to deal with and we were told to come back tomorrow and see a doctor upstairs. No sure how we will manage it though as the doors upstairs have no door handles. Difficulties aside, health care is FREE in Argentina for all.