Nobody wants to see the inside of a hospital during their holidays. Having to go to a hospital in a foreign country leads you to deal with additional challenges like a foreign language (what the hack does „mitral valve prolaps“ mean in spanish?) or a different kind of bureaucracy and organization (no, you don’t just storm into the emergency section unless you want to be knocked down by the armed security guard :-)).
When I finally decide to see a doctor with what would later turn out to be a pneumonia I am prepared to spend hours in the „VozAndes“ hospital in Quito, Ecuador.
Who would have thought that it would be rather a slap stick comedy… :-D
First rule: Pay first
First thing to learn was: You pay first and get treated then. The standard payment of 20 $ includes either a doctor’s appointment, an x-ray, a specialist’s treatment or … any other service available. And it always includes a check of your vital signs:
blood pressure, pulse, temperature, weight, height.
I get into the hospital without an appointment and am assigned to a doctor, pay my 20 bucks and receive 3 stickers with my name on it accompanied by a receipt.
All set? Let the comedy begin.
I sit down in front of a door with a big sign „vital signs“, patients around me smiling, nodding and greeting me. The Ecuadorians are very friendly and warm but also pretty curious people.
The guy on my left leans over looking at the stickers in my hand. „Better sit down over there, then they can see you much better.“ I thank him and sit down 2 seats to the left. The lady on my right leans over and seeing the stickers she says: „Knock on that door, honey, they are probably inside.“ So I knock on the door and I am waved in.
Blood pressure, pulse, temperature, weight, height, all is marked on the stickers.
Armed with the stickers the doctor’s assistant storms out and enters the doctor’s room leaving the stickers on her table.
My new mom
I sit down again. The lady on the right greets me back with a broad smile.
„And why are you here? Something serious? Oh no, that sounds bad, you know what you need to do? Take *unpronounceable food* (I presume a fruit) every morning and evening without sugar! It’s sooooo good! You can also loose weight with that! I lost 5 pounds! See?“
I squeez in a „wow, yes, …“
The lady - I already feel like she's my mother - goes on, putting her arm around me: „What doctor are you waiting for, love? - Oh, yes, us too. My son, you know, he dislocated his shoulder. Are you living in Quito? … Well, why not?“ (Errr..)
But she doesn’t wait for an elaborate answer and rather tells me why she moved here (the climate), where she’s from (the coast) and that it’s a lot hotter in her home town.
If I ever have been in *jerkwater town with strange name* at the coast?
As I shake my head she goes on: „It’s really nice. You should come. When are you coming back to Ecuador?!“ (Errr, I’m still here, am I not?)
The doctor calls me and I leave my new mom.
We wave to us.
Another surprise. The doctor is very organized and very thorough.
She takes her time and, having a suspicion, sends me to get an x-ray of my lungs and provides me with a specialist’s appointment. She asks me to come back to her afterwards.
So I go back to the cashier, pay 20$ for the x-ray and another 20$ for the specialist.
Markus starts to feel like Al Bundy giving away Dollar notes to his lady every few minutes.
Did I say, that the 20$ include a check of the vital signs? It doesn’t matter if they took them half an hour ago.
Blood pressure, pulse, temperature, weight, height - marked on the new stickers.
Then go to the x-ray. As my doctor has written „urgent“ on the paper, it takes only 10 minutes and I’m out again. Just enough time to reach the second floor to meet my specialist.
And guess what? Blood pressure, pulse, temperature, weight, height - on a 3rd pair of stickers. :D
Coming back to my doctor as promised she is actually waiting for me. She asks for the x-rays and I tell her, what they told me: The images are ready at 5pm. She gets up signaling me to follow and storms into the x-ray department. 3 minutes later she storms out again, images in her hand and a broad smile plastered across her face. We talk, she prescribes medication.
When will you come back to Ecuador?
The rest is just talking about my travel plans.
„I will probably go to the coast“ - „Ahh, yes, it’s really nice there. Do you know *another jerkwater town with strange name*? When will you come back to Ecuador?“ I can hardly stifle my laughter, thank her and we hug as a farewell.
In total I spent 2 hours in that hospital and really felt cared for.
I go back to Markus, who has waited at the cashier. I tell him I have a pneumonia and cannot stop giggling. His gaze speaks volumes - whatever drugs they must have given me, they must've been good...