VP says public and IESS hospitals are in ‘crisis’, commits government to making corrections

Jun 25, 2021 | 4 comments

Vice President Alfredo Borrero said Thursday that the government is taking immediate action to bring the country’s public and Social Security hospitals up to professional standards. “In my tour of hospitals, I have found massive deficiencies in all facilities,” he said. “We lack the equipment, the supplies, the medicine and the staffing to operate an efficient, modern health system. in some cases, we lack the training. We have a crisis on our hands.”

Vice President Alfredo Borrero, center, tours a hospital in Ambato on Thursday. (El Comercio)

Borrero, a neurosurgeon from Cuenca, has toured a dozen hospitals in Guayaquil, Cuenca, Quito, Ambato and Machala since taking office, speaking to doctors, nurses and administrative staff. “The pandemic has put extra strain on the system but we were not operating at an optimum level before the virus arrived.” He added that he has ordered system-wide as well as hospital-by-hospital reviews to find remedies.

Although he said additional funding may be necessary, the vice president said there will be an emphasis on improving administrative efficiency and eliminating over-payment for supplies and medicine. He said investigations by the attorney general’s and comptroller’s office have uncovered “mafias” involved in the sale of supplies to all public hospitals that have cost the government tens-of-millions of dollars.

Among the issues Borrero’s reviews will cover is coordination between hospitals as well as internal management. During a tour of a Guayaquil hospital last week he discovered that people were being turned away from the emergency room despite the fact that the  facilities were mostly unused. “I was told that the hospital had dedicated itself exclusively to Covid cases and was not taking patients with injuries or other illnesses,” he said. “When I inquired about how they were coordinating this decision with other hospitals I found there had been no communication on the subject. This is the kind of management failure we must overcome both locally and system-wide.”

Beyond overcoming supply and staff deficiencies, Borrero said that professional staff standards must be updated and standardized throughout the system. “There has not been a thorough examination of the standard that doctors and staff must meet in years and this should be done immediately. From what I have observed, some of the staff, including doctors, are not properly trained and need additional education.”

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He added: “Our goal is to bring the country’s public health system up to regional and international standards and to do it as quickly as possible.”

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