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the focus here is not on updating outmoded equipment, but on refining
technical skill. And for the Peruvian doctors, having the UCLA medical
team in their hospital is a godsend.
are 20 years behind the times in our surgical techniques," says
Rafael Guerrero, a cardiothoracic surgeon. "It is impossible to
learn everything that we need to know in just a few days, but the
most important thing is for the nurses and doctors in this hospital
to learn as a team so that everyone -- the surgeons, the cardiologists,
the anesthesiologists and nurses -- know what is being done and
of the most serious problems facing doctors in Peru who want to
gain more surgical experience is monetary. Because the medical system
is so financially strapped, families of patients must on their own
purchase the necessary supplies for surgery -- everything from bedsheets
to anesthesia -- at a cost that easily can exceed a year's wages.
This is true even in a public hospital such as the Instituto del
Niño, which is operated by the Ministry of Health. Only 10 percent
of the population has the wherewithal to readily afford such treatment.
As a consequence, critically needed care often is delayed months
or years while families raise the necessary funds.
aren't enough patients whose families have the financial resources,
so we are unable to do the operations that are necessary to increase
our skills," Guerrero adds. "When there is no money, we have to
swim against the tide. It is exhausting."