Friday, December 17, 2010

to your health

We've had reason to visit the doctor a couple of times this week,
and to get some tests done at a small local lab, and at a nearby hospital.

The medical system operates a little differently here than in America.

I make a call at 9:30 a.m. as the doctor's office opens to get an appointment at 10.

We jump on a jeepney
and ride 10 minutes to just around the corner from the office,
then walk straight from the street into this narrow, dark hallway.

This hallway is also the reception room,
and by the time we leave, it's packed with people.

We walk to the receptionist's desk,
a very simple place with ledgers and receipt books.

Though we've been only once before, the receptionist knows us.
We do stand out just a little.

We sit down to wait.
I can't help but notice the gaping hole with wires protruding in front of us;
by my western perspective, a lawsuit waiting to happen.
But not here.

Within 5 minutes the doctor appears from his hospital rounds,
and we are ushered straight into his office,
a tiny room with another simple desk and a couple of chairs.

This doctor is well known among our friends as a godly, thorough, excellent doctor.
What an unspeakable blessing to have such a resource.
He greets us so kindly, listens, and carefully considers the best course.
He decides to send us to the lab for some tests.
I don't know where the lab is, so he comes out with us to the front door, and points us to the correct building.
What kindness.

As we come off the street into the lab, a barefoot beggar woman with a lethargic baby approaches us. I smile and thank her, ignoring her plea (that sounds horribly unchristian, but it would take another post to explain).
So she follows us right inside the lab to the reception desk,
pecking at my shirt, rubbing her stomach, pleading for money.
The receptionist calmly calls the burly lab tech from the back room who comes and motions the woman and baby back outside.
It's part of their routine.

The tests ordered by the doctor are done in about 5 minutes.
We sit down to wait for the results,
and 30 minutes later we're back in the doctor's office discussing them.
As we leave, he writes down his personal phone number for us
so we can contact him at any time.

Utterly amazing.

The next morning finds us at the hospital for more tests.

We go FIRST to the cashier with the doctor's orders.
No tests will be run until we pay.
It makes sense in this economy.

Then to the lab for blood work.
Take a number.
Ask for a barcode.
Sit and wait your turn
while you watch everyone else get their blood drawn...

It's true.
We sit in this room waiting for our #82 to be called.
And we watch through the glass wall as the patients before us sit down in the chair by the desk, roll up their sleeves (long sleeves in THIS climate?!?) have their arms tied up in those rubber strap things, and in goes the needle.
Better than TV.
Unless you don't like that sort of thing.
Maybe I'll play with my cell phone.

We think it's our turn next.
But then we realize
that one way that seniors are honored in this culture
is that they go to the head of the line in situations like this.
No, we aren't crazy about waiting longer,
but yes, we love the idea of honoring age in that way.

After the blood draw we head to the ultrasound lab.
They didn't know we were coming.
But they take us in immediately.
A lab tech, a doctor and a radiologist each take a turn checking things out.
After they are done,
we have the results in our hand in about
4 minutes flat.
And all for about $30.

By now I'm wondering if America's medical system is as great as I thought it was...

We walk down the street to the doctor's office to drop the results off with the receptionist.
Instead she ushers us into his office
where he's ready to discuss them with us.

I can't help but wonder how much longer this process would have taken in my home country.
But then I remember that this process is not available to everyone here.
It's available to those who can pay.

And I remember to give thanks.


Rosalie said...

Truly amazing.

Sharon said...

Hopped over from Mark and Louise's blog... and so glad I did!!! Seeing photos of Davao makes my heart ache just a bit. I wrote a similar post about grocery shopping in Giasano Mall. I actually do miss the cheap quick health care there.

us5 said...

thanks for hopping over, Sharon! welcome!
i neglected to tell about having to visit 5 pharmacies before finding our prescription, but that seems pretty minor compared to all the rest. :smile: