Joao's Concerns by Robert Pellegrino-Estrich, December 2003
This is Robert Pellegrino-Estrich. I have been asked by Martin to convey some concerns that are causing João and the staff considerable grief with a view to having some warning notices and advice added to the website. We too have had to remodel our own website to reflect these growing concerns and no longer offer do-it-yourself information.
The problems are to do with the growing number of people arriving unaccompanied in Abadiânia in advanced states of ill health. Many come with inadequate preparation and stay for prolonged periods of time. Some even pass over and thus cause the casa, João and the authorities a great deal of trouble. Some of the problems include:
- Arriving alone without a guide resulting in insufficient instruction and guidance to ensure they understand the casa procedures and/or the post-operative requirements.
- Arriving without sufficient funds for a prolonged stay.
- Failing to secure adequate insurance to cover illness, hospitalisation, accident or loss of belongings.
- Of particular concern is hospitalisation. It costs approximately $5000 for an intensive care week in hospital and some in the past have been hospitalised with no way of paying the account. There have been instances where workers at the casa have had to raise funds to pay these bills.
- In the event of death the cost is even higher. It can cost up to $10,000 to have a body prepared and flown back to Europe or the USA. This is not only a huge burden on the family but on casa staff as well, who are left in a very awkward position to handle the Brazilian authorities, the undertaker, hospital, the family and the airlines.
- Of grave concern to João and the Entities is the prolonged periods of time people seem to be staying. Often they arrive in a state of passing over but think that by staying longer they are guaranteed a full recovery - God sometimes has other plans. Many people are staying a full three months and do not take the Entity’s advice to return home. When they deteriorate they are often hospitalised and they then become a problem for the authorities and the person (usually a staff member) who admits them. In Brazil they are the responsibility of the admitting person.
In our own situation whenever we are asked for DIY information we explain that this is no longer possible and we explain why. With some careful questioning their fitness to travel is established and whether they are genuine cases with inadequate funds. If so, we try to accommodate them with a discount offset by our organization. Of course this is a very limited service because funds are always tight, but we are hopeful it will reduce the number of DIY travellers. Most people seem to consider the facts and appreciate the advice.
I think what João and the staff would like to see is some form of warning and advice to possible travellers. They should be encouraged to:
- Travel the first time with a guide.
- Take out insurance that covers, illness, hospitalisation, accident, death and loss of property. Most of these are covered in the average travel insurance, which cost very little.
- Bring adequate funds and have access to additional funds in case of hospitalisation i.e. a credit card with at least US$5000 availability.
- Ensure that the guide has sufficient person details to enable them to advise family in case of an emergency.
Sorry to be the conveyor of this extra workload but as one guide who has had to deal with a cadaver I would not wish it on anyone.