I haven’t been feeling well this week and had to go to the doctor. It wasn’t my first time visiting one here. In August I had a bruised rib – and I’ve taken the kids to the pediatrician (office hours: 10:30 to 12:30 and 4:30 to 6:30!) This time I went to see someone who worked at a hospital instead of a home-based office, which is quite common here. It was an interesting glimpse into the differences between the first class and bloated medical system that we have in the states and a system that operates independent of the insurance juggernaut.
Basically, here’s how it works: When you arrive at the hospital you pay a cashier to see the doctor. Then you take your receipt to the doctor’s receptionist and wait a not-too-unreasonable time to see her. The visit is thorough, professional. I did notice though that no one took my blood pressure or weight at the beginning of the visit which is standard at home.
The doctor ordered a series of blood and urine tests and an ultrasound. (Let me say here that I am very healthy – no worries, all!) Again, I had to pay for the tests first. I took the receipt to the lab receptionist and he gave me a number. When the number appeared on an electronic board, I entered the lab. The lab was a bit worn, but orderly and efficient. I have a particularly fabulous vein for giving blood on my right arm and every plebotomist that meets it comments. There wasn’t any banter about it here, and the needle entered much lower down the vein than typical for me – and it HURT! Again, unusual. However, vile after fat vile was filled with ease and I was in and out of there in 5 minutes. For the urine test, they gave me a cup with screw cap lid, much like at home but smaller and not wrapped in a sterile plastic bag. I was sent to the bathroom around the corner – it was smelly and dirty and didn’t have alcohol wipes OR toilet paper OR hand towels. Women, in particular, are well conditioned to giving a clean sample so you can imagine my horror! But I got the job done.
Next, the ultrasound: Again, I paid the cashier, took the receipt to the receptionist, sat down to wait and hopped right back up two minutes later when my name was called. The room was cold and dingy, but the equipment appeared to be state-of-the-art and looked just like every other ultrasound machine that I’ve seen through my pregnancies and veiny leg stuff. There wasn’t a sheet to keep me warm or discreet through my half nakedness – but this didn’t matter much as the review was relatively quick. An actual doctor did the ultrasound and she discussed the results at the end.
The receipts are stamped with a time and date in which you can collect the results of your tests. Some are ready within hours, and others, within days. Once you have collected your results, you make another appointment to meet with the doctor to discuss them. I spent several visits back and forth following this routine, and after the initial confusion of bouncing from wing to wing and desk to desk, I actually found the system worked rather well.
That said, I think that I would elect to have a major in-patient procedure done at home but I know people who have had babies here and other procedures, all without incident. I’ve also talked with people who have had very scary emergency experiences. I think that this may be the weakest link in healthcare here.
As for cost: 170 USD total. That should make my insurance company happy!
Here are few photos of our latest escapades… I call this one Rush Hour:
Eddie and a buddy at the school holiday sing-a-long:
This is what I have to deal with trying to get out of the house in the morning:
This is a typical winter street scene. Security guards, street vendors, the homeless sit around little fires to keep warm. Evenings and early mornings can be quite smokey:
Local dancers performing an Indian version of the Nativity… I believe these are the shepherds:
One of our weekly family activities:
This would be one of Eddie’s more creative tantrums:
I took the kids to ride an elephant last week – and I was the only one to actually get on the beautiful beast! Her name is “Monie” and she’s 20 years young. Note the Christmas tree drawn on her trunk! I’m looking into her eye here – it was so expressive!
And finally, look at those gorgeous hills! We spent the afternoon at a guest house here having lunch and chasing cows, baby pigs and foul of numerous varieties. This little paradise is located less than an hour from our home: