Tiny inquiries, leaks, structural damage, and lack of accessibility. These are the conditions in which healthcare professionals work in some medical offices in Orihuela and especially suffered by the hundreds of patients they see every day, in old-fashioned premises more typical of the middle of the last century. Specifically, those of the districts of Virgen del Camino and Correntías. The maintenance of these facilities is the responsibility of the Orihuela City Council. In the case of Virgen del Camino, the clinic occupies an old municipal office, the old schools, where some 600 residents of this Oriolana district, La Murada (Orihuela) and neighboring Callosilla (Callosa de Segura) are served. In Correntías, which serves a population of about 800 people, the premises are not owned by the council but rented, which makes it difficult for the City Council to undertake a work there.
The deficiencies are many and visible even before entering, in the very facade of these clinics. Inside, the image is bleak. In the case of the Virgen del Camino premises, in its scarce 35 square meters there are the nursing office, the doctor’s office, a small waiting room and a bathroom shared by health personnel and users, something that does not comply with health protocols, and to which someone in a wheelchair could not enter, and that it is a facility where patients who need it go. In the halls, the Lack of air conditioning and heating forces you to take shelter in the coldest times already put a fan in summer. There is no lack of humidity.
And the most bloody thing, three people work there – a doctor, a nurse and an administrator – but there are only two tiny consultations, which means that when the nurse has to attend to a patient, the administrator has to leave. “It must be the only health facility in the world where there are two rooms for three workers, the nurse and the clerk having to alternate to occupy a consultation,” denounces, with amazement and astonishment, the doctor José Manuel Peris, delegate of the Medical Union of the Valencian Community in the Orihuela Department of Health. Further, When the clerk is not in that consultation, the patients cannot be given an appointment. In the poorly lit offices, there is hardly room for the doctor or nurse and the patient, and the material is piled up in the corners and their boxes accumulate anywhere in the absence of a warehouse and lockers to leave personal utensils and clothes such as robes .
In Correntías the situation is not better. These days garbage bags cover the stretcher and the precious medical devices, such as the electrocardiogram or the sphygmomanometer, to prevent leaks from damaging them. The water falls incessantly on rainy days like these days. There is humidity in the treatment room, in the bathroom or in the space where patients wait to be seen. They are everywhere, on walls and floors, in this filthy place. The roof was damaged by the cold drop in September and since then, as soon as it rains, the water has seeped into the building. Moisture has chipped the walls. It seems incredible that there you can attend to people who come to cure an ailment.
This medical center also has accessibility problems since the door is too small for wheelchairs to pass through, which is why, on occasions, the patient has had to be treated in the ambulance that has transferred him. The bathroom is also not accessible and there is hot water only in one sink and it is conspicuous by its absence in medical consultations.
From the Medical Union they claim to understand current health priorities, “but we denounce loudly and clearly how the population is being cared for in these clinics,” says Peris, who criticizes both the Ministry of Health, in charge of the health management of the clinics and its staff, such as the Orihuela City Council, which transfers the premises and takes care of their maintenance. «They are not suitable premises to serve the population of these localities. They are not worthy of the times we live in, neither for the professionals nor of course, for the population that pays their taxes “, denounces this doctor, who defines the situation of these clinics with a phrase:” we are administering vaccines of the XXI century in consultations of the middle of the XX century, and thus it cannot be continued ».
The mayor of Health, José Galiano, explained to questions from this newspaper that the City Council plans to act in both clinics and did not hide that their condition “is regrettable.” In the case of Virgen del Camino, the area it directs prepared a pre-project to build a new medical office in the same place that now occupies the old municipal building that houses it. The City Council sent it before the summer to the Ministry of Health, which must give the go-ahead. “We are waiting for you to answer us,” justifies Galiano, who assures that “as soon as we receive your authorization we will build it”, for which he will reserve a game of about 160,000 euros. This local municipal has an added problem. It is located on land considered as a sidewalk and not developable, although according to the mayor “as there is a consolidated building there, owned by the City Council, we are looking at the formula to build a new one.”
In Correntías, when the premises are rented, the City Council has no more leeway than looking for a new space to set up an office. “The difficulty is that there is not much availability of urban land in the district and the neighbors want it to be not too far from the houses,” says the mayor. In the current building, which is a ground floor, the City Council can only make small reforms and arrangements when it is rented, which prevents the large investment that it would need to make it a decent office to serve people there.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.