After a fun filled day of shopping in Coxen Hole, on Roatan, Honduras, the unimaginable happened.
Yes, shopping in Coxen Hole can be fun, and the unimaginable, well it can happen wherever you are.
The driver of a very large twin-cab pick-up truck, lost control on a bend, and crashed head-on into the much smaller twin-cab pick-up truck that I was a back seat passenger in. All occupants of both vehicles were seriously injured.
Since making the decision to move to Roatan, Honduras, I have been repeatedly questioned, “What about your healthcare?”
I am Canadian, which means I have always had access to the Ontario Health Care (OHIP) system, guaranteeing free medical services. Moving to Roatan meant I would have to forfeit that (if I return to Canada, after 3 months I will qualify again.)
Emergency medical care in a “developing country” was about to be put to the test.
Immediately after the crash, everyone who was in the area offered assistance, there was no waiting for emergency services to arrive (at that time, on Roatan, there were none available.) My good friend; who was unconscious, and the driver of our vehicle, along with the front seat passenger, and the driver who had hit us, were loaded into the back of a different pick-up truck and whisked away to the “Community Hospital” in Coxen Hole.
I refused to go.
Not because I didn’t trust the medical staff at the hospital they were being taken to. Not because I wasn’t hurt bad enough – I was! I refused to go along because I knew the hospital had limited resources, and I didn’t want them to waste time and precious supplies on me.
I would only agree to go to one of the clinics on the Island. I was definitely showing the initial effects of the collision; an angry looking welt had risen on my forehead, blood trickling down my face, my legs looked like they had been repeatedly whacked with a baseball bat.
The doctor on-call took one look at me and recommended I go to the hospital…I refused. He, in-turn, respected my decision and went to work tending to my medical needs. He examined me, and cleaned and bandaged my wounds. He continued to suggest that I go to the hospital for observation (in case of a concussion) but didn’t refuse to treat me. He never made me feel like a child, unable to make decisions for myself.
My wishes being respected in a situation that was beyond my control went a long way towards dealing with what had happened to me. His eyes were filled with compassion, while his skills as a doctor tended to my injuries.
I would return to the clinic and other medical facilities to be seen by many physicians, technicians and specialists (all certified in their field of medicine) numerous times over the next six weeks; sprained ankle, whip-lash, removing glass from my arms and back, treatments for my leg, an MRI (on the mainland) and treatment for a torn ligament in my knee. Each and every one of them tended to my needs, as if I was their only patient. They listened to what I had to say about how I was feeling. I was never dismissed, ignored, or denied investigation of every avenue to ensure I healed properly.
Did they do this for the money…I don’t think so?
• Consultation and examinations from doctors – 4 visits
• X-rays – 2
• Treatment, leg wounds – 3 visits
• Orthopedic specialist – 4 visits
• MRI – Done one week after requested, they would have done it the next day if it was convenient for me to go that soon.
• Physical therapy – 6 visits
Cost to me…less than $700.00
And I want to note, that if a Honduran Citizen had needed the care that I did, and could not afford to pay, they would not have been denied service by any of the medical professionals I saw. They would not have been turned away, or treated with any less respect than I was because I could afford to pay, when they could not.
There is a dedicated group of trained, compassionate medical & health professionals in Honduras who give of their time and resources to care for all the people.
If you are interesting in helping them in any way I suggest you visit Project Honduras where you will find a wealth of information and opportunities for you to get involved.
This story is also available to read at Honduras WeeklyHealing Power of Compassion
Retitled; The Healing Power of Compassion.