Day 5 - Addendum (Payment)

Posted on: 02/08/2017

Author: Bookhart, Wingard

The team was told on our first day at the hospital that the expectation is that people pay "something" for their surgeries. I met and spoke with Sergio, the hospital administrator, about the "payment" from the patient. The hospital is open 24 hours/day and sees approximately 10,000 people per year, of which roughly 1,000 have surgery. The remaining 9,000 receive some degree of general consultation (approximately 5,000 have an appointment and 4,000 come in "off the street". The cost for general consult is independent of appointment, though, those without an appointment are seen "first come, first serve" after those with appointments. The cost for a general consultation is between 20 and 30 Quetzales ($3-$4). Generally, those coming to the hospital live within a 60 km radius. For those who are receiving surgery, the price ranges from 0 to 1500 Quetzales ($0-$200), depending on their ability to pay. The patient is interviewed about their personal situation which includes marital status, number of children, employment status, income, living arrangements (what kind of dwelling/type of floor, i.e. dirt), presence/absence of electricity/running water as well as how they are dressed during the interview. They are also asked what they would like to pay. Only about 2% of the patients do not pay anything, with most paying in the range of 400-500 Quetzales ($50-$70). Even if the patient offers payment of only 1 Quetzales ($0.14), it is gladly accepted since not accepting the offer would be disrespectful and devaluing to the patient. Their payment provides for the surgery, stay before/after surgery and appropriate meals. Obviously, this payment does not financially cover the actual expenses incurred, which is why donations are certainly welcomed. The surgeries are performed by mission teams: either multiple Faith In Practice teams throughout the year (at the hospital for a week at a time) or 2 teams from Spain (here for a two week period each). Sergio continued by saying that typically those who are the poorest, tend to contribute a higher percentage of their income. From the Gospel of Luke 21:1-4 As Jesus looked up, He saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. Jesus saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "Truly, I tell you", Jesus said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of poverty put in all she had to live on." 1 Quetzales may seem like a pittance to us, but for someone making only 45 Quetzales a day in back-breaking labor, it is a large amount!