The Hospital

Now the hospital. A few things stand out.

My first impression of the hospital was the crowd. The main lobby is always busy… always. I wonder what they are all waiting for.

There is a huge Ganesh idol in the lobby, but I have not actually seen any of the multitudes of people in the lobby actually doing any poojas at the idol.

There are separate pediatric and adult emergency rooms.

There are LOTS of nurses. The nurse to bed ratio was 2:1 in the emergency room and close to 1:1 in the normal rooms. Sammy was checked on by four different nurses within a few minutes of arrival. During the stay, he was often checked on; much more often than would normally be the case in an American or German hospital.

The quality of care was certainly on par with an American or German hospital. Unless the American health care system gets overhauled soon, expect to see more and more medical tourism.

The doctors seemed less pompous and friendlier than American and German doctors. OK, they were no more forthcoming with information unless pressed, but their bedside manner is certainly warmer.

The décor was a funny mix of modern luxury appointments and what I call the military base look. By this, I mean functional and well worn with little expenditure on making it look fancy. If I had to guess, I’d reckon that the hospital was being remodeled on a department by department basis; possibly with an eye toward medical tourism.

The pricing structure of everything follows your choice of room. If you take general (several patients per room), then not only is room quite cheap, but the pharmacy costs, physician consultations, lab tests, MRI/Ultrasound, etc. are all scaled down. Moving up to semi-special (2 patients per room) and special (1 patient per room) increases the cost of all of these things; as does moving on the luxury rooms, executive, deluxe and ultra-deluxe. At first, we considered the possibility that the quality of care would scale with the room. After all, privately insured patients in Germany get clearly preferential treatment over those using the public insurance corporations. The administrator that checked Sammy in was adamant that the room choice did not affect the care and told us to only take the luxury rooms if fancy décor, air conditioning (not needed at this time of year) or broadband internet were important to us. We had Sammy in a special, so that we were alone and had a place for the staying parent to sleep. Daniela and I agree that this is an interesting and fair way to scale the cost of health care; charging the high end patients more and giving them a reason to feel that they got something for their money, while subsidizing the bottom end of the scale.

An interesting thing on the pricing scale. We paid for Sammy’s post discharge prescriptions after he had been cleared for discharge (and we had paid up). The prescriptions, some of which were the same, were a fraction of the original cost, post discharge; using the same hospital pharmacy. I have to conclude that the default price is general and everything scales up from there.

One thing did give us consternation; though it was the only thing. On the first evening, Sammy was X-rayed. We laid him down on the gurney. The technician moved him into position and moved the dolly with the photographic plate under him. A tech on the west would start laying lead shielding mats over the other areas of his body and shoo us to a safe area. After all, x-rays are not exactly healthy. Instead, this one asked Dani:

Could you please hold him in this position?

On a final note, the orthopedic surgeon, Dr Chakravarti, is awesome! He is competent and very, very nice. He even stopped by our house the other day to check on Sammy and see how he is doing.


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