Archive for August 30th, 2009

Since finally managing to register for my tarjeta de sanitoria (health card), the process of getting my repeat prescriptions has been fairly straightforward, apart from one small glitch a couple of months ago when I rang the central number for an appointment only to be told that I had been assigned to a different doctor.
Which wouldn’t have been a problem, if only someone had had the gumption to inform Doctor Peña that several patients had been arbitrarily re-assigned to his caseload.
Instead, there was a 20 minute comedy farce involving myself, Doctor Peña and several other re-assigned patients relaying between the surgery and the administration desk on the next floor before someone enlightened the good doctor and we could all settle down to an amicable routine.

Pink diamonds this large are apparently as rare as a tarjeta de sanitoria electrónica

Pink diamonds this large are apparently as rare as a tarjeta de sanitoria electrónica

Then last week I had to go back for my repeat prescription.
Instead of giving me my usual multi-layered, multi-coloured prescriptions, Doctor Peña just printed off a single note and explained that there was a new system.
I felt the hairs on my arms bristle even as he spoke. In my experience “new systems” in Tenerife are rarely a good thing, particularly when the old system appears to be running perfectly well. Jack and I call it the This is Tenerife or TiT syndrome and if you’ve ever seen the movie Blood Diamond in which Leo diCaprio talks about TiA (This is Africa), you’ll know exactly what it means. No matter what they try to do to move forward, at the end of the day, there will always be a deep rooted inability to get things right. On good days, it’s an endearing quality, on bad days it’s TiT.

It seems that from now on, all I have to do is take this certificate along to the pharmacy, give them my tarjeta sanitaria and they give me my tablets. Then I can go back again in a month’s time and get another month’s worth of tablets. No prescription and no need to go back to the doctor for 3 whole months. Espléndido!

So off I went to the pharmacy and handed over the certificate and my tarjeta santaria. The assistant looked at me and asked for my electronic card.
“What electronic card?” I asked.
“Your electronic tarjeta sanitaria,” she said, pointing to a large poster behind me which showed a shiny turquoise credit-sized card and explained the new system of swiping the patient’s electronic card through the bar code reader before dispensing the medication.
“I don’t have one” I said, my TiT antennae now on full alert.

The assistant went off to make a phone call and emerged moments later.
“You’ll have to go back to the medical centre and get a print-out of your code so that I can input it. Without that I can’t give you the tablets. Sorry.”

I groaned and my head went down.
I drove back all the way across town to the clinic and went to the reception.
“The pharmacy won’t give me my tablets unless I have an electronic card” I said.
“That’s right. It’s the new system.”
“But I don’t have an electronic card.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll print you out a code to take to the pharmacy and you can use that instead.”
“Why don’t I have an electronic card?” I asked, I felt, not unreasonably.
Hombre” she said, shrugging her shoulders and widening her eyes, “Most people haven’t got an electronic card yet!”

This is Tenerife – I rest my case.

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