Interview with the head of the health centre of the district of "La Esperanza" in Cartagena
Larry Javier Laza Barrios is the coordinator of the health centre (CAP - Centro de Atención Primaria) in the district of "La Esperanza". It is a public facility, equipped with beds, where the office of the Tribunal for Patients' Rights of Cartagena is also located.
1. Hello, what kind of healthcare services does the centre offer citizens?
The CAP provides primary services: general medicine, low-complexity emergency, dental care, vaccines, physiotherapy, nursing, health promotion and prevention. The CAP is composed of a coordinator and two head nurses, one in charge of A&E, the other of home visits, health promotion and prevention.
2. For more than two years now the CAP La Esperanza hosts the Tribunal for Patients' Rights of Cartagena (now Corporacion Tribunal de Derechos). Why did you decide to share the centre with the Tribunal?
It's a good opportunity for the community to acknowledge and participate in the strengthening of the rights and duties of every citizen requesting our services. Having the office of the Tribunal in the CAP is also one of our strong points because it is important for us coordinators to work together with a group of "facilitators" who inform and assist users. I believe that this facility has more advantages than drawbacks, and I think it is important to extend activities also to other health centres in the city, as a strategy to strengthen the care in the health centres of the ESE Cartagena de Indias (Empresa Social del Estado del primer nivel de atención, equivalent to the Italian ASL).
3. How did the health professionals (doctors, nurses, etc.) who work at CAP La Esperanza welcome this novelty?
At first there were some barriers between the Tribunal and the medical staff, as the latter considered the members of the Tribunal as sort of inspectors sticking their noses in their activities. However, from the moment I became responsible for coordinating the activities of the CAP, interaction between the Tribunal and the medical and paramedical staff has become dynamic and now there is mutual cooperation. I believe that the limits, barriers and initial prejudices no longer exist. Now there is collaboration and harmony which reflects positively on our good work with and for the end users.
4. What do citizens/patients who use the Tribunal for Patients' Rights in the CAP La Esperanza say?
I believe the community feedback is positive since the Tribunal provides guidance and information and does not take sides in disputes. Our job is to be mediators and facilitators for solutions to problems and not become a source of further hindrance. As far as I know, at the moment there are positive comments which benefit and strengthen the work of the Tribunal.
5. Is the Tribunal for Patients' Rights a good practice of active citizenship which you will continue to promote and also suggest to colleagues in other CAPs in Cartagena and among its citizens? How can you promote its dissemination?
I believe I am giving a significant contribution since our main goal is to strengthen the knowledge among volunteers about the public health system, and this reflects on the good level of assistance and guidance we can give users who require our services. I think this is of great value and help to the other health centres ESE Cartagena de Indias since, through a good orientation and training of its volunteers, it promotes and defends the rights of users of the public health system.
Interview by Mariano Votta, Director of Active Citizenship Network News, August 2014, with the collaboration of Carlos Ceballos.