Day 4 – Saturday June 18
Day started early – we are on the bus at 8am and off to
Hospital Rosario, a free public hospital where the poor of San Salvador go for
treatment. We are met by Dr. Virginia Rodriguez who is head of surgery at the
hospital and she takes us on a tour of the wards. The hospital opened in 1902
and has survived the four major Salvadoran earthquakes of the 20th
century. I ask if I can take pictures and the doctor says yes – she doesn’t
impose any restrictions on taking pictures of the wards or people. I think this
is a bit odd, but I am willing to take pictures.
The hospital is clean, but like most hospitals in lesser
developed countries, people are crowded into open wards. There may be 40 or 50
people all lying on beds next to each other in some of the wards as hospital
staff move among them. There is essentially no privacy for anyone except there
are curtains that can be drawn between beds in some of the wards. The concept
of a private room doesn’t exist at this hospital. I realize why I can take
pictures with impunity. Everyone sees everyone else – literally dozens and
dozens of people could go by a bed in a
day. The intake area is filled with people on gurneys and on chairs. Yet we are
told that, because this is a Saturday, relatively few people are there. Dr.
Rodriguez tells us it is usually really crowded with patients, and I think,
‘This isn’t crowded?’ But I refuse to
take any pictures in the intake ward. I feel it is too intrusive – an invasion
of privacy and a line I will not cross. I can take a distance shot of a ward
with people on beds, but the intake ward is too close, too personal.
The hospital reminds me I am in another country, one that is
in the developing world, and I am both impressed at the incredible dedication of
the nurses and doctors and appalled at the lack of health care facilities. The
hospital is strapped for funds and cannot hire as many doctors or nurses as
they need, nor do they have enough beds for the patients.