Nov. 23, 2008 – And Yet Another Lesson in Living in India – Hospitals
No, don’t worry, it is not me! Just a recap of yesterday’s post about my friend Jacqueline, the French lady with the broken elbow:
… she is 66 and while in Varansai recently, she fell and broke her arm just above the elbow. The first doctor she was taken too told her it would cost 600 rupees for a cast but she must return immediately to her own country for an operation on her elbow. She didn’t want to do that so went for a second opinion. The second doctor said he would put on a “special” cast for 5000 (!) rupees and she would not need an operation. Who do you believe? Anyway, she went with the second guy and arrived a few days ago in Rishikesh. Just to be sure, today she went to an orthopedic surgeon some people recommended, and he took new x-rays. His diagnoses was that the first cast was not even done properly, the angle is wrong, the material wrong for this type of fracture, and they she definitely needs surgery, but she can do it here in India. He sent her to a further specialist, who she will go see tomorrow, but she is now so concerned she is in tears. He told her if she doesn’t have surgery very soon, she will never be able to bend her arm again at the elbow (it is now set at a 90 degree angel).
I feel so bad for her. She has been in India for years, much lie me, but is now at her wit’s end and totally confused, and alone. I don’t envy her.
So, today, I took her to the recommended hospital which several people had already told us that it is an extremely good hospital where people come from all over for even brain surgery. I did Reiki to her most of the day, on and off, whenever I could. I forgot to bring my Rescue, as did she, but the Reiki helped alot to keep her as calm as possible under the circumstances. We got a taxi to take us at 10 this morning. It was a lovely ½ hour ride up towards Dehra Dun, through lovely forest roads. This is the area which my favorite Indian writer, Ruskin Bond, always writes about, as he lived here most of his life. I’ve always wanted to see the things he describes, and today I did! We arrived at the hospital, only to find that it was basically
closed because today is Sunday. But the emergency room was working. This did not sound good to me as I know what hospitals are like on weekends in Israel…skeleton staff, etc. But there was a nice women in reception, who took us to the emergency room herself, and asked them to send down an orthopedist surgeon. One arrived in just a few minutes, but he looked like he was 20 years old! I didn’t say anything to Jacqueline, but she must have been feeling the same things as me.
Just to give you some perspective…this is a well renowned hospital, and yet it is India. Simple utilitarian place, with walls floor and ceiling, no decorations, nothing extra to make it seem more welcoming. Very clean, but certainly nothing inviting about it. There were several people there by the emergency room, but nothing hectic. Probably much better than a weekday when the place would probably be a madhouse with people waiting etc. Like this, it was basically empty.
Anyway, since Jacqueline doesn’t speak English very well at all, and has extreme difficulty understanding it, even moreso in her harassed state, I was her translator, but felt more like her Mother. I explained the whole story to the doctor, and showed him her x-rays. He looked at them, didn’t look too happy, saw her cast, looked even more unhappy, and said he would call his professor. And he did. A short while later an older, mature doctor arrived, dressed in jeans and t-shirt, heard the story again, checked the x-rays and said she would have to have new x-rays taken before anything could be decided…And to do this the cast had to be removed. All this would be done and then he would be consulted again for the final decision regarding surgery. All this was done very pleasantly, with much patience all around waiting for me to translate everything for her and then back to them etc. No one seemed annoyed, or hurried.
The cast was removed, and this in itself was very difficult as it was some very strange material which they said was completely wrong for this type of fracture. It finally came off and then off to x-rays. But first I had to go pay (now began the running around which is the reason why a person absolutely cannot come to the hospital alone in India). I went and paid, escorted by one of the doctors! So I wouldn’t get lost, and in the meantime, she was taken by wheelchair to the radiology department. The doctor then escorted me there as well so I would find her easily and she wouldn’t be alone.
Well, apparently the x-ray was VERY painful as they had to straighten her arm, which she hadn’t moved in 2 weeks and was also broken, and at one point she almost fainted, had to vomit, but she made it through. They were very gentle and consoling, never getting annoyed or perturbed, and always encouraging me to stay near her. (except during the actual seconds of the x-ray).
Then back to the emergency room. After a final consultation, it was determined that she definitely needs surgery or she would never regain movement in her arm again. The job was really botched. They wanted to admit her on the spot, but I explained that she could not do that as she needed to get clothes etc and make arrangements first. But she needed someone to come with her to be admitted, and the next 3 days I cannot go with her as my friend will be visiting with me. We asked about Thursday, and they said that since she already waited 2 weeks, another few days wouldn’t matter, but the sooner the better. However, in order to get onto a waiting list for surgery here, you MUST be IN the hospital. Meaning, she might have to say 3-4 days in the hospital before the surgery, just to make sure she would be scheduled. They don’t give dates in advance.
So, I called someone else here to see if she could escort her tomorrow, and basically she would be able to, and the doctor then said they would put on a temporary cast until the surgery, and even if she decided to go back to France, she could do so safely with this cast. Problem in france is that she lives completely alone, out in the forest someplace in Brittany, has no friends or relatives there to help out, and she figured it would be easier being in a cast for 3 more weeks here where she has all her needs taken care of.
So, before doing the cast, the doc gives me a list of things I HAVE TO GO BUY SO hospitals, equipment, even disposable gloves, IV bags etc., must be purchased by the patient and given to the staff to use to care for him. So I went up to the store and bought everything, and the cast was fitted. But this is also the reason why they said she MUST come with someone to the hospital, as the entire time she is there, someone would have to purchase stuff for her whenever some treatment would be needed.
We then came home, and she said she would speak with her Insurance company and find out what the procedure is with them. A few hours later, I came to tell her all was set for 1 PM tomorrow to go with the other lady to be admitted, when she told me that insurance company said that this hospital is not recognized by them, and they would have to find out where she could go for the surgery, perhaps Delhi. It may take a few days. She explained it was urgent, but they didn’t seem to care. Told her if she decided to do the surgery here, without their written approval, she would not be reimbursed. Now I’m beginning to understand why Abdellah’s French insurance company took a month to have someone get here to bring him home!. They said if they agree to the surgery here, they would said a taxi to get her and bring her to Delhi to the hospital, and after her release, bring her back here. But then again, she would be all alone in Delhi and this also frightens her. It is a big problem, and I have no way of helping her further. Hopefully by tomorrow she will have an answer.
In truth, the costs are so low she could easily pay herself, but if there is any complication and she would need follow up treatment in several months from now back at home, she would not be covered. The surgery would cost about 5000 rupees, a private room 1000 rupees a day and any other small charges incurred during her stay at the hospital. In other words, we are talking less than 300 EUR here! This even includes a small bone implant imported from Switzerland!
Anyway, that was my day today. At least I know there is a good hospital just ½ hour away from here if, God forbid, I would ever need one.
And of course, another lesson in living in India! So now we just wait for insurance company to get back to her. I promised her, that if she does do it here, I would stay with her at least for the day of the surgery. Time will tell.
That’s it for today