The Hospital of Pontevedra is located in the western area of Buenos Aires, it is part of the Merlo district, and it’s an hour and a half away from the city center. The hospital is over 40 years old: it started as a local hospital, founded and run by the people of the neighborhood, and years later it was passed over to the control of the municipality. When it was a local hospital, users had to pay a voucher to be able to sustain the health service and professionals, but nowadays it is part of the public health system of Argentina.
The services that the hospital has are: dentistry, obstetrics, neonatology, pediatric, vaccination, general medicine, psychology, social work, ophthalmology, gynecology, emergency care and pharmacy service. It has a small area for hospitalization of children, but does not have intensive therapy.
Around 50 people work in the hospital among health professionals, administration and maintenance workers. Every area has their consulting room, but they intend to work in an interdisciplinary way. Once a month they hold meetings to deal with certain cases of greater complexity so they can have a different point of view from each specialty.
The hospital receives approximately 500 medical queries per day. To be attended by the health professionals, people must have an appointment. The hospital assigns appointments from 6am on a first-come first-served basis: most of them for the same day, but others are given for the following week/month according to specialties.
People who attend to the hospital aren’t only from the Pontevedra neighborhood, but also from González Catan, a neighboring area, and from the Libertad neighborhood. The people who come are mostly from low-average economic situations and the main problems that arise on the community are cases of violence, poverty, narcotics, and disinformation related on health.
The role of the volunteer in the hospital will depend on their commitment and interests, however, their role will always be primarily about observation. Volunteers will learn how the hospital works, and how different doctors and areas work as well. For this reason, there is no unique role, it’s built with each volunteer. According to the motivation and how long volunteers stay, the possibility of taking part in different activities will be available.
Volunteers get to know a different part of Buenos Aires, beyond the tourist areas. As a health intern, volunteers can learn about the health system in Argentina, the way it functions and its issues. Moreover, it’s an opportunity to learn Spanish and especially more technical medical vocabulary. The exchange with the community is a big part of the experience, it allows local people to learn more about different cultures and the professionals to compare clinic methods as well.
Available all year-round. The center is open Monday to Saturday, from 8am to 7pm. The Schedule will be evaluated with each volunteer with the coordinator of the program, Daniel.
Daniel graduated in 1999 with a specialty in traumatology and then specialized in osteology. He worked, in addition to his work in hospitals and his personal clinic, as director of a local health center in the neighborhood of Ramos Mejía, and also within the Emergency Medical Care System. He has been in the Pontevedra hospital for 3 years and what he likes the most about his work is the contact with people and being able to help them.
He has been working with Voluntario Global since 2012 and what he likes the most is the exchange with volunteers, he also enjoys being able to offer their first mate and see how they react. His mother's family is Greek, so he would love to travel all over Greece, his dream is to have time to relax and read next to the Acropolis and, as a good reader, his favorite color is beige due to the color of the pages of old books.
1. Valid Passport & Visa: Most travelers do not need a visa to enter Argentina. Volunteers enter the country as tourists and can stay for up to 90 days. Extensions on visas are possible; our coordinators will advise you on this process.
2. Medical Insurance: Voluntario Global requires the volunteer to have adequate medical insurance for the duration of the program and must be provided with details of such insurance coverage at the time of confirming their placement.
3. Spanish Level Required: Intermediate (B1-B2)
4. Minimum Stay: 8 weeks