BELIZE CITY, Tues. July 10, 2018– The majority of Belizeans have no health insurance, so when sudden health conditions arise that require a visit to a doctor, most persons turn to the various public hospitals to seek assistance.
In the past that was alright because they would be attended to at the public hospitals and clinics. If they had to undergo elective surgery that was never a problem, as long as they had the patience to wait until the hospital was able to arrange such a surgery.
However, that is not the case anymore at Belize’s premier public health facility, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH).
This is the story of Ronnie Castillo, a 48-year-old mechanic who suddenly started to experience pain in his lower left side and visited the KHMH, seeking treatment for what would later be diagnosed as a hernia.
Castillo told us that in March, he began to feel pain in his side and decided to visit the KHMH to find out what was the matter.
Castillo said he spent one overnight in the KHMH between the 24th and 27th of March, and was given intravenous treatment. The doctor who attended to him diagnosed the condition that was causing the pain in his side as a hernia.
After he was diagnosed, Castillo said the doctor told him that he had to see a specialist and they made an appointment for him to see the specialist on July 6.
“They told me to be at the hospital at 8:00 a.m. sharp. So I went to see the specialist on the day of the appointment,” Castillo said. “When I went there, the doctor looked at me and said, take down your pants and let me have a look,” he said.
After the specialist had examined the area where Castillo was experiencing pain, he confirmed that he had a hernia.
What the doctor told Castillo next, however, caught him off-guard.
“The doctor said to me, ‘yes, that is a hernia, but we don’t do that surgery here anymore. You have to go to a private hospital,’” Castillo explained.