As the number of patients increases, it is no secret that the EBAIS public health clinics operated by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) are overcrowded, with inadequate staff.
Every day the Caja faces this struggle, while many men and women line up in the darkness of dawn in front of the main entrance of the building where a sign with the acronym "EBAIS - CCSS" hangs.
However, this year's Caja budget has been increased from ¢208.205 million colones to ¢220.529 million. This spending plan, which was announced by the Caja's Executive Director during a visit to Nicoya, will allow the institution to implement 63 new EBAIS projects.
According to Ileana Balmaceda, through this increase in resources they are trying to ensure that throughout the country people will have access to basic health services. In addition, funds will be used to purchase new equipment, as well as to implement new subdivisions and to recruit new staff for healthcare centers.
"With these resources we will help Nicoya's EBAIS. We are in the process of recruiting new staff, which is what most affects the quality of care", explained Balmaceda to the VON during a phone interview.
Given this news, a light of hope now shines for María Gabriela Díaz Díaz, who we found during a June dawn at the door of the Nicoya EBAIS, waiting for a medical appointment.
If the CCSS starts opening new EBAIS clinics throughout the Nicoya region, as well as providing additional resources, Keilor Fabián Jiménez, a patient in need of their services, will no longer have to get up so early, every time headaches interrupt his sleep, in order to get a spot.
There are currently 982 EBAIS clinics that operate in 103 Healthcare Areas throughout the country. A study conducted by the Ministerio de Salud in 2003 showed that there are many flaws in the quality of care, especially when it comes to young girls at risk of getting pregnant, those who are victims of elderly abuse and young people with drug addictions.
The Caja has relentlessly explained that the biggest issue is the lack of staff, this being the main complaint of patients at the 844 Equipos Básicos de Atención en Salud (EBAIS) that currently operate in the country. According to the CCSS regulations, physicians may see a maximum of four patients per hour; however, physicians are forced to see up to seven patients per hour - almost twice the legal regulations.
Although many patients acknowledge the good work ethic and disposition of the CCSS staff that cares for them at Nicoya's EBAIS, they are also aware that uncomfortable conditions and a lack of equipment and pharmaceutical drugs are also responsible for the poor quality of care.
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