By Irene Gardner
One of the many challenges that new and long-time expats face in Cuenca is figuring out where to turn for help if a medical emergency arises. Often complicating matters is a language barrier when expats do not know Spanish. Locating and communicating with health care providers in Cuenca who have the necessary medical knowledge and training to help expats in specific situations can oftentimes be daunting.
Enter Cuenca Medical Resources. Largely focused on the North American English-speaking expat community since 2015, the founding committee, then comprised of nurses and other concerned individuals, decided to help the expat community by providing a directory of healthcare providers who spoke English.
The committee members, including Katy Johnson, RN, who was one of the original committee members, knew the difficulty they had experienced finding doctors, dentists and other health care providers who spoke English. Fortunately, Katy remains active with Cuenca Medical Resources yet today.
The committee then decided to broaden their outreach, and the committee began to give presentations and seminars on health care in Cuenca. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that the committee decided to launch a website that expats could access to find health care support in their native language.
Nearly 100 professionals and support services are currently identified and recommended on the Cuenca Medical Resources website, cuencamedicalresources.com, which includes English-speaking taxi drivers, doctors, nurses, dentists, translators, alternative medicine sources, physical, wellness and health therapies, and support organizations, such as Al-Anon and Cuenca Expat Assist, among others. Additionally, expats can find contact information for U.S. and Canadian embassy or consul offices in Ecuador if a medical emergency requires additional support from foreign offices.
One of the key health care provider categories included on the Cuenca Medical Resources website is medical facilitator. A medical facilitator, who is hired by an expat usually for an agreed hourly rate, functions as an advocate on behalf of the expat. As an advocate, the medical facilitator, who is knowledgeable of medical terms and procedures, supports an expat by communicating on with doctors, nurses, lab and X-ray technicians, and any other health care-related support person during a medical emergency. If necessary, facilitators accompany clients to medical appointments and assists them with insurance company transactions (claims and other forms) and in their dealings with hospital administration.
Today, the Cuenca Medical Resources committee is comprised of nurses, medical educators and an IT person, who are all committed to assisting fellow expats. The committee hopes to soon add a physician. New members are always welcome to join the committee.
It is important to Cuenca Medical Resources that a broader, more international group of expats is able to discuss their health concerns in their native language with their chosen health care provider. Currently, some health care providers speak French, Hindi, German, and Chinese in addition to Spanish and English.
The committee happily accepts recommendations for health care providers to be added to their website, provided such recommendations are based on a recommender’s actual positive experience with the provider. The committee verifies all recommendations they receive before uploading the professional’s information to the website.
The Cuenca Medical Resources website is currently undergoing an update. The updated, reorganized website will not only include information about more health care services and providers, but it will also identify other languages that the listed healthcare providers speak. Another added feature of the updated website is a section that provides printable medical forms with instructions on when and how to use the forms.
The launch date for the new and improved Cuenca Medical Resources website will be announced soon, and readers are encouraged to subscribe to the website to receive updates to the directory of healthcare providers and any new categories of health care and health support services that may be added from time to time. Subscription are free and subscribers may “unsubscribe” at any time.
If you wish to contribute your input to further the success of Cuenca Medical Resources, all comments, suggestions and constructive criticism about the website content are gladly accepted, provided the comments and criticisms are given in the spirit of helping the committee improve the information they provide to the Expat community. The committee may be contacted at email@example.com.
Cuenca Medical Resources wishes to thank the International Community Church (ICC) for its continued years of sponsorship, and the committee also welcomes and thanks the Cuenca Dispatch for its more recently added sponsorship. The committee is otherwise self-supporting and does not accept any advertising income for its website.
Disclaimer: Although Cuenca Medical Services provides some generic descriptions and contact information for the healthcare providers and services listed on its website, Cuenca Medical Services does not make any claims, recommendations, or endorsements for, nor does it promote or sponsor any of the healthcare providers identified on the Cuenca Medical Services website. Cuenca Medical Services does not guarantee or claim that the information provided by the healthcare providers is correct and accurate. Cuenca Medical Services strongly encourages clients to perform their own due diligence to vet health care providers with regard to their credentials, education, experience and abilities to help with personal situations, including their level of fluency in the language you desire to use with the providers.