Mexico recently had a health care reform where the Secretaria de Salubridad y Asistencia (S.S.A.) health clinics were created. These clinics are unique because they serve the poorest of the population in Oaxaca. S.S.A. facilities were created to provide health care to those who were unemployed or did not have a stable job (street merchants, etc.). Before the creation of these facilities, 50% of Mexico’s population found health care inaccessible.
The S.S.A. clinic I work in is called Vicente Gurrero. It is a small primary care clinic with three consulting rooms, a dentist office, birthing room, and a pharmacy. The location is in a rural area in Oaxaca with unpaved roads and homes roofed with thin sheets of steel. Patients fill the waiting area outside, but unlike in the United States, seem like they do not mind the wait. All patients, doctors, and nurses in the clinic speak solely Spanish.
My first week in the clinic was spent observing and asking questions I compared a lot of what I saw here to the typical clinic in urban United States. The patient-doctor interaction was warm as it is in the U.S. but the patients seem to be more trusting/accepting of everything the doctor had to say. Back home, patients act more skeptical towards the doctor because they received health advice from the internet or a friend. One key difference I noticed in Vicente Gurrero was how accessible the doctors are by patients who just walk in with a question. A patient can come in and ask to speak with a doctor in less than one minute. In the U.S. patients often have to wait a long period of time to see a doctor, even if it is a simple question.
I work in the clinic on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. While these three days I will be observing, next week will be more hands-on. I’m curious to see what that involves but so far I’m falling in love with the clinic. Providing health care to patients who are underprivileged is exactly what I want to do in the future.