Friendly dogs and coke paste

Katerina Kafkas with Luna  the pet therapist.JPG
This is Katerina Kafkas… writing from Henson’s account.
The trip thus far has been amazing. Everything here is just different, including the water. A large portion of the bottled water here is “con gasificada” or “with gas” which is basically a seltzer water but is not appealing when it’s warm or when you are parched. Stray dogs are everywhere on sidewalks and even beaches. We try to keep a safe distance, but every now and then a friendly stray joins us for one of our walks. The people here are very welcoming and kind. We are greeted with a hug and a kiss on the cheek from everyone including the psych patients. It’s been a great opportunity to travel around Talca and see just about every aspect of its psychiatric system.
Many stray dogs on the streets of Chile.JPG
One of the facilities we were able to observe in Talca was an outpatient drug and alcohol clinic. We were greeted outside by stray dogs and inside by a security guard. The waiting room is crowded with patients waiting to be seen. We were educated by a tech and psychologist on what kind of patients they saw and their therapies. The illicit drug they primarily saw in the region was cocaine. They have various forms of it including a “coke paste” which is a concoction of cocaine and other drugs, like rat poison. This paste is available for the same price of a pack cigarettes, 500 Chilean pesos or about $1.
This facility, also works with children since there has been incidences of children as young as 10 using inhalants, like computer spray. All patients get therapies from a team consisting of a tech, psychologists, social worker and psychiatrist. No nurses were involved in this program due to funding, but it was relayed that they wanted nurses. The therapy they provided to patients was very comprehensive and individualized to the patient.
Unfortunately the building itself wasn’t the greatest due to the earthquake. Multiple patients receive counseling in the same room and the only thing separating these therapies is a divider that resembles the wall of a cubicle. This eliminates the confidentiality. This would make it difficult for an individual to come forward with a drinking or drug abuse problem. In addition, the facility did not include AC since its a “temporary” location after the earthquake, which was about 3 years ago now. This may seem like a minor issue, but when we went to visit the facility it was 97 degrees outside and felt even hotter inside. I find it difficult to have a therapeutic environment for a patient at a temperature so oppressive.
Much more to blog about in Talca. We have had poor connection in the hotel and will try to keep everyone posted. Stay tuned.

View aphoto galleryfrom the trip.

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