Monday, July 20, 2009

Medical Care

Each week we see our PCMOs [PC Medical Officers]Nurse Mary aka Medical Mary, and Dr Luis at the Guarambare Training Center.

(Dr. Luis who is currently in South Africa because they were short doctors)

They give us shots, check in about our health, and distribute medication, and give us lectures on all of the fun health issues we might encounter during our service. Fortunately PC medical care is ridiculously awesome. They pay for %100 of our medications and medical treatment. Either Mary or Dr. Luis are on call 24/7. If I get sick, call them, and they tell me to come into the office, the PC will reimburse me for my bus fare to and from Asuncion. If I can’t return to my site that same day, PC will pay for me to stay in a preapproved hotel, and give me a daily allowance if needed. If a volunteer is raped or suffers a major assault but don’t need emergency medical assistance, Mary or Luis will come out to the site, retrieve the volunteer, and bring them back to Asuncion for treatment. If a volunteer does need emergency assistance, we’ve been told that people who help us get us to help can be reimbursed. A story has circulated about people [the general public, not volunteers], who have bled to death because people won’t let them into their personal vehicles for fear of staining the seats. PC has assured us that they will pay to clean car upholstery, gas, medication or emergency procedure… whatever is necessary to get a volunteer the proper medical attention in a life threatening emergency will be reimbursed. We are told to visit the local clinics and nearest hospitals to introduce ourselves, makes friends with the doctors and nurses, give them a list of emergency contact information, and assure them that if a volunteer ever comes in for emergency treatment payment is not an issue, PC will take care of all of everything, they just need to focus on getting us the proper medical care.
The only notable exception is for non-emergencies where volunteers get treatment or purchase medications without previous authorization from the PCMO. If the PCMO doesn’t authorize the purchase or treatment beforehand, the volunteer doesn’t get compensated. For example, a volunteers starts having stomach problems, they go to a local clinic and get some medications without talking to a PCMO. These expenses would not be reimbursed.

We are covered if we travel as well unless we go to the US, then we aren’t covered for anything. As government employees we are also covered by FECA [Federal Employee’s Compensation Act] aka workers comp. As long as we are not injured while engaging in high risk activities like bungee jumping, volunteers have long-term coverage for injuries and illness sustained during service.

If something major does happen. A volunteer has 45 days to recover. Depending on the injury, that recovery period may be spent in a facility in Paraguay or at the PC’s medical facilities in Washington D.C. If the volunteer cannot return to work in 45 days, they are medically separated. They still receive medical treatment, but they are not considered a PC volunteer anymore. However if the volunteer recovers within about 3 months of the incident, and would still like to return, they may be readmitted as a volunteer in the same site. For example, there is a volunteer who fell into a ditch and shattered her heel bone. She was MedEvaced, Medically Evacuated [sent back to the US for treatment], was not able to recover in 45 days, and was ‘Medically Separated.’ However she has made enough progress in rehab since she was injured a couple of months ago, and is expected to return to her site in a few weeks and continue her volunteer work.

Dental Care:
Yup, the teeth are covered too. We get one cleaning per year. Also any damage that our teeth sustain ie cracking a tooth on a stone hidden in rice, getting hit in the mouth and losing a tooth, root canals, etc are also covered as long as the procedure is not for a pre-existing condition.

Pregnancy is the one area where the PC isn’t very supportive of its female volunteers.

Male volunteer:
• The in-country pre-natal, delivery, postpartum, and pediatric care of the mother/child are covered by the PC as long as the male volunteer claims the child as his own and lives with the child.
• There is no limit on the number of children a male volunteer can have. So go forth and be fruitful.

Female volunteer:
• Pre-Pregnancy: PC pays for contraception (the pill) and emergency contraception (Plan B).
• If the female becomes pregnant and decides to keep the baby she can stay at her site for 3 months. After that time she will be ‘Medically Separated’ and not be permitted to return to her site. Her pre-natal, delivery, postpartum, and pediatric care will be covered.
• If a female volunteer gets pregnant and wants to terminate, she will be MedEvaced to the US for the procedure [abortions are illegal in Paraguay]. However, once the volunteer is back in the US, she has to make the arrangements herself and cover the costs herself. After she has recovered, she can return to her site.
• If a female volunteer has 2 unwanted pregnancies she ‘separated’ [aka kicked out]of the PC. Two unwanted pregnancies by a female volunteer is ‘considered evidence of irresponsible behavior incompatible with Volunteer service.’

To summarize:
• Male and Female volunteers can get as many STDs as they want, the more the merrier, and all of the medical expenses will be covered.
• Jim Jo Bob Be-Fruitful can start his own human breeding colony and all of his children are covered as long as he claims them and can find a roof big enough to house everyone.
• Fertile Mertil has 2 unwanted pregnancies so she gets fired from her job and has to foot the bill for her medical expenses.
• An notable blemish on an otherwise absolutely stellar health care policy

After I swear in as a volunteer, PC gives me a cell phone and recharges it with a fixed amount each month. I can add to that amount if needed.

The basic jist is that there are some really icky bugs and illnesses I might be faced with, but for the most part, the PC will take good care of me.

No comments: