Inaccessible hospital opens in Huelva (and they can’t afford to equip new Vera medical wing)

The Junta de Andalucía has surpassed itself this time – they’ve just opened a 21 million euro hospital that you can’t reach, because nobody has built the road there yet.

Even better, it’s in the town of Lepe, whose inhabitants have a reputation for being the backwards red-neck hicks of Spain.

*Here’s a Lepe joke: a man from Lepe left to go to Seville, but he came across a large sign saying HUELVA, so he did. (You have to do the local accent when pronouncing Uelva).

The new hi-res CHARE hospital on Huelva’s coast is designed to carry out 3,000 ops, 83,000 consultations and 70,000 A&E a year. But to get there, you have to drive over a pitted dirt road.

Work started back in 2007, and only just been finished, so they’ve had plenty of time to sort out this trifling little matter.

Junta and the council blame one another. The Junta says that under a 2005 agreement with the local council of Lepe, the council should have built a road, as well as connecting the utilities. The council disagrees and says it hasn’t got any cash.

Oh right, the utilities aren’t connected either. So it’s not really open, is it?

Meanwhile, closer to home, the Minister of Health has officially opened the new wing of the Vera medical centre, which will double the size of the complex, as well as introducing new services.

Although Minister Aquilino Alonso cut the ribbon at a ceremony last week, the new wing will not officially open to the public until late January. Essential equipment is still waiting to be installed and many rooms are still empty.

Work on the wing ended last May, but the budget to outfit and equip the new offices has been lacking. Vera council issued a complaint to the Junta in the autumn asking why the wing was again delayed.

Sixteen thousand people are served by the medical centre. A new outpatients surgical room, several new consultation rooms, nurses centre and a training office have all been built in the new building.

The main building, which serves as the primary care unit for the surrounding villages as well as the market town of Vera, opened in 2000. Construction of the new wing was approved in 2010, but work did not start until 2014, despite the completion date in the original plan being specified as April 2011.

The cost of the building was 1,360,000 euros, of which 80% was paid for by the Junta de Andalucía and the remainder by Vera council. Equipping the new building will cost a further 263,000 euros, which is underwritten by the Health Ministry, and this is where the current delay has come from.

Currently, eight GP’s, two paediatricians, eight nurses and two assistant nurses, an X-ray specialist, a social worker, a dentist and three administrative staff are assigned to Vera medical centre, along with six ambulance drivers and their corresponding vehicles.

The centre also has a A&E (Urgencias) department which is capable of dealing with most minor injuries. A plastering department for minor breaks was recently added along with the X-Ray capabilities, meaning patients with minor broken bones now do not have to travel to Huercal Overa hospital for treatment.

The unit was the centre of a national scandal last summer when it was discovered that the paediatrician there had falsified her title, and had never completed medical school. The local woman was suspended after she applied for a job in Murcia and authorities there discovered her graduation number was made up.

PS / the photo in this story is of Huercal Overa’s La Inmaculada hospital, which has nothing to do with anything. But it’s the best I have.

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