“You should go to the hospital just to be checked out.”
The thought of going to the hospital for anything less than a life-threatening illness is enough to make me volunteer for a root-canal instead. The hospital? Eight hours in the emergency room to be told you have the flu and that you should rest and drink plenty of fluids? No thanks.
But when you’re in Thailand and you have symptoms akin to Dengue Fever, you go.
So I left work early (not that they would miss my half-conscious attempts at editing) and bundled myself into a taxi. Despite the driver’s confusion at my outfit more suited for October in NY than Thailand in August, I finally got him to understand where I was trying to go. “Hospital!” Confusion. “Sick! Cough cough!” Huh? “Doctor?” Ahhh. We’re in business.
Walking into the emergency room of the BNH Hospital, I was shocked to see it completely empty. I was then escorted to registration, then up to the examination floor and told to wait to see the doctor. I’ve spent time in NYC hospitals. They’re run-down, chaotic and make you wonder how diligent their sanitary practices really are. But this hospital was beautiful; wood floors, soft lighting, comfortable leather sofas. And the gorgeous Thai nurses look like they walked out of a World War II movie.
I only had enough time to form those observations when they escorted me back to see the doctor. A bright, English-speaking doctor told me they would test for Dengue, and I was immediately escorted to get a blood-test. I’d only been there for 20 minutes and all I had to do was wait for the results.
Dengue fever is a virus with flu-like symptoms that one can get when bitten by an infected mosquito. In some cases you also get a nasty rash and can have bleeding in the gums and teeth. Thankfully I didn’t have those symptoms and my blood count was low but not low enough to have Dengue.
After 90 minutes I was seen, checked and diagnosed. Now I had to pay (which I wasn’t looking forward to since I didn’t have my insurance card) and get my prescriptions (which I had no idea how to get). But here in Thailand, a visit to the hospital is a one-stop trip. They have a counter where you pay your bill ($47 without insurance) and a counter to pick up your medication.
It really makes you wonder that if Thailand can have a heath-care system that works this efficiently with such value to the consumer, why can’t the U.S. institute something like this? Apart from the dominance of insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry, I think it’s because if Americans were offered this kind of ease and value after what we’ve had to deal with, it would be flooded with hypochondriacs.
Either that or they would go to see the cute nurses.