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A personal comment by Uwe Heitkamp

Attention please! This is a call for help!
A personal comment by Uwe Heitkamp

A personal comment by Uwe Heitkamp

Saturday the 8th of July 2023.

None of the following is a joke. You wanted to read a story by me? You will get this story. Right here, right now. Imagine you had an accident in your youth. Maybe a sporting accident, playing basketball, say – or a motorbike crash on a rural road – or an accident at work on one of the many constructions sites of the Algarve… or anywhere else between Beja and Faro.

So you are taken to hospital, to be operated on the spine. An operation that is not straightforward, taking up many hours. When the anesthetic wears off you wake up and realise, bewildered, that you can no longer walk. You are lying in a hospital, in the neurosurgery or orthopedics ward, in a bed that’s not yours. Morning, midday and evening time you are given something to eat – which triggers constipation and colics – for you’re no longer able to go to the toilet unaided. You’re really, really poorly. You ring the bell, and ring again, till the cows come home, only for no nurse to arrive. The SNS (Serviço Nacional da Sàude) is cutting corners everywhere in the so-called health service, particularly in terms of care staff levels. The public hospitals in Faro, Portimão and Lagos are a total disaster…

Let me pause this story here for a minute to jump to the small physical rehabilitation hospital in São Brás de Alportel. For it is there we’ll encounter a place with 54 occupied beds serving two provinces, Algarve (Faro) and southern Alentejo (Beja), nurturing the sick back to health before sending them home. On paper at least, there is a waiting list with over 50 registered patients. Maybe this list can be whittled down by the end of the year? It’s not very probable. For in this physical rehabilitation establishment, the only one the SNS state health service runs in the south of the country, paid for from social security contributions, the air conditioning has packed up. You can probably imagine what that means in the south of Europe?

Since 19 June and in these hot days that have taken us into July, the sick, stuck in the beds and wheelchairs of their ward, are forced to fry, roast and boil, with temperatures reaching at least 32 degrees Celsius. Today, Tuesday, we saw 41 degrees in São Brás de Alportel. Maybe we can all tackle, and solve, the problem, as those behind the small physical rehabilitation hospital, in the shape of the state of Portugal, represented by the Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Algarve and its administrators (see box) are not able to get a grip on this problem without bureaucracy, much less solve it. Nothing is happening…

This is the reason behind this think piece of mine, and my appeal to all DIY techheads out there: who knows their way around air-conditioning units? Who amongst you would be prepared to make themselves useful, for free, in the physical rehabilitation hospital at São Brás de Alportel and to do a good deed? This is about checking the air-conditioning system, repairing it if necessary – in any case, put it back to work.

While we’re on this subject… you might remember Paulo Neves from the times that he was president of the RTA, around the turn of the millennium? On his last day at work the tourism authority in Faro received a visit from the Polícia Judiciaria (CID) which confiscated the RTA office computers to corroborate a suspected case of corruption. This is worth a story for another day actually. On this five-member strong board, Paulo Neves is the illustrious person with the right party-political allegiance: socialist and sunshine minder. Kind of embarrassing really. And as to who rules the roost here? Ana Filipa Varges Gomes is the president, flanked by three more members of the board. To this day, none of these representatives have been able to take the right decisions to guarantee the patients a dignified existence in the rehabilitation unit of São Brás e Alportel.

If you are in any way able to lend the ladies and gentlemen some technical support here, do send an email to the following address: administracao@chalgarve.min-saude.pt, or ring Paulo Jorge dos Santos Neves: 00351 – 289 891 100 or drop a line directly to CENTRO DE MEDICINA FÍSICA E REABILITAÇÃO DO SUL: info.cmrsul@cmfrsul.min-saude.pt  https://www.chualgarve.min-saude.pt/orgaos-de-gestao/ … Many thanks.

Uwe Heitkamp (62)

trained TV journalist, book author and hobby botanist, father of two grown-up children, knows Portugal for 30 years, founder of ECO123. Translations: Dina Adão, John Elliot, Ruth Correia, Patrícia Lara, Kathleen Becker
Photos: dpa


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