Seeing Healthcare in Action!!

I can’t believe that two weeks have already passed. It feels like just yesterday was I getting off the plane here. I got a chance to experience so many things that many people don’t get a chance to see. Knowing that I’m having an experience of a lifetime helps with missing important moments in my family’s lives. Plus my host family is awesome and has made me feel so welcomed here. With this being my first time traveling abroad I was nervous because I had no idea what to expect, but this is an experience I will never forget. I feel my perspective on different culture and health care processes have really grown from everything I’ve learned here.
Today we got to change up our routine. Instead of a lecture in the classroom we visited the university’s hospital and a mental health center. We have heard so much about the hospital and medical center that it was great to actually see them in action. Here in Brazil they have universal health care, so even if you can afford private insurance you can still get coverage through the public insurance. The Federal University of Bahia has a public hospital. We learned about some of the departments with a focus on the transplant area. Transplants are even covered under the public health insurance called SUS, but the doctor did say it could be hard to get certain organs. They even took us to see the bone marrow transplant unit. It’s crazy to me that they only have five beds for such a large city like Salvador.
I was very interested in seeing the mental health center. It was perfect timing since we just had a lecture from Dr. Darci Neves on the mental health system just yesterday. The mentality here is that mental illness can’t be cured but managed. This is impressive because many other countries try to just put these individuals into asylums, but Brazil is trying to give them a chance to live as much a normal life as they can. Centrode Atenҫ̰ao Psicossocial ADIII Gey Espinheira is a mental health center that focuses on substance abuse. There are only three centers like this one in the Salvador. At this particular center not only do people get help with substance abuse issues but they will provide you with a place to sleep and food. Then because it is a public center its free for the population. The social worker and nurse that spoke with us talked about how many of the people that come in with alcohol and drug abuse have an underlying mental illness. Centers like these could really benefit the U.S. since many people with severe mental illness and substance abuse end up homeless. It’s nice to know that here in Brazil they are trying to change that. They need more centers but a few are better than none at all.
That is all for now. As you can see today was an eventful day but as you read the other posts every day is eventful. I do feel like today was a little different because we are usually learning about the health care system in class, but we got up close with the staff and patients. Every day here we see things we haven’t seen, experienced things we haven’t experienced, and learn new things about ourselves. I now understand why people say going abroad is a life changing experience. After this I will never be the same.