My name is Paula Tabaschek and my main focus on this trip exploring the different sectors of non-communicable disease prevention. I am a junior studying Biology on a pre-medical track with the intention of focusing on global and public health. Throughout the week we have been learning about the details of the CAJA which is the public health care system in Costa Rica. Our multiple hospital and clinic visits have allowed us to see the system in action, but today we got to explore how the in home aid care Technical Assistants to Primary Care (ATAP) workers function and play their role within the EBAIS.
In each region of Costa Rica there are clinics and hospitals of different levels and specialties. The first level, though, is made up of a team called the EBAIS. In each region there is a designated number of EBAIS that are responsible for different so-called counties or towns. This group is known as the country’s “medical team” because it is made up of a doctor, a pharmacist, an ATAP worker, a nurse, and a medical scribe. When it comes to public health education, disease prevention, and general primary care this is a perfect example of a team that serves as the backbone to a functioning, sustainable, and healthy medical system. Why is that? Well first of all, the ATAP workers are required to go to patients houses for in home visits whether they are insured or uninsured. Each ATAP worker gets assigned certain areas and must perform these visits throughout the year. What makes this system successful is the consistent care from the ATAP workers because they are the first line of contact trained to administer necessary vaccines and detect more serious conditions in patients to refer them to get further treatment.
So where does this process start? First of all the ATAP workers are notified of the different visits they must do the day. They bring certain vaccines and basic medications depending on who they are treating and what may be needed. From there, they go into the homes and assess the safety of the home, check vitals, and proceed with necessary service.
Today we got the opportunity to shadow an ATAP worker named Fabian. He had two in home visits planned for us with two completely different levels of care. The first family we visited was of lower socioeconomic status. This was a unique case because he had not seen this family in three years due to changing circumstances. His main objective with this family was to emphasize the important of vaccines because the youngest child was missing all of his vaccines. He educated the other family members on why it is important to have the vaccines when they are supposed to be administered and what these vaccines will help prevent. In addition, he took each family member’s vital signs and asked basic questions about their lifestyle. The in- home assessments were also recorded on his medical chart. This directly relates to my project and how sustainability with prevention is the key to global health. My focus on chronic diseases is demonstrated with how the ATAP workers delivery primary methods of prevention because they work directly with patients and educate them on how to be healthy. If patients have certain risks or concerns they will get referred by the ATAP workers and that immediately is a closer step towards preventing chronic diseases.