Thursday, July 22, 2010

First time in Czech hospital

I have stubbed my toes (rather badly) about three weeks ago, and it had been hurting on and off ever since.  I even stopped my regular exercise as it was hurting bad.  So, finally I said to myself that it is time for me to explore the medical system in Czech Republic.

As usual, I had to rely on someone (this time Katka) to find me an English-speaking doctor. She told me that the private practioners don't do x-rays and that I needed to go to the "hospital."  The nearest hospital is right next to our apartment in fact, and she kindly found me a doctor who could speak English there!

The hospital consists of many buildings and I had to find the right one, but thanks to the exterior picture of the building that Katka attached to her email for me.  I found it very easily.  The hospital was clean and rather empty.  It is not like a US or Japanese hospital, where you see lots of doctors, patients, and patients' family walking around and talking.  It was very quiet.  I went up to the reception window and started to talk in English to see how they react.  Obviously they didn't speak English.  Having been in Brno for 6 months, I expected it, so I had a piece of paper that I prepared in advance using Google Translate saying that I stubbed my toes and needed to see a doctor, etc.  :)   Maybe the translation wasn't perfect.  She looked a bit puzzled, but she got the basic idea.  It was 2:40pm when I was told to sit down and wait for my name to be called. 

I waited and waited for an hour.  By then, more people showed up and there were 5 other people waiting besides me.  Around 3:45pm, the speaker attached to the ceiling called my name (well, the voice didn't pronounce my name correctly so for a while I didn't know, but I guessed it had to be me as I was the first one there and no one moved).  I left the waiting room to go into the hallway to figure out where the doctor might be.  I saw an array of closed doors, but I didn't see anybody anywhere (and the receptionist was gone by then).  I looked around more and heard the noise coming from one of the doors, so I knocked.  No answer. It was like a bad deja-vu from the time I went to the Foreign Police office.  Then all of a sudden three or four doctors/nurses came out from the room I knocked previously.  And, one of them pointed the door and gestured me to go in.  Sure.  I went in.

The doctor asked me if I spoke only English.  I didn't want to bother telling him that I also spoke Japanese, as I knew it was't the intention of his question to know how many languages I spoke.  So, I simply said yes.  He looked a bit hesitant, but he invited me in and offered me a seat next to his desk.  He entered my data into a computer and checked my foot.  I also told him that I started to feel an arthritis-like pain on my right hand.  He decided to give me x-rays both of my foot and my right hand. He told me that my insurance unfortunately only covered the accute examinations and that I needed to pay for the x-rays as the pain has been going on for a while. Guess how much it cost me? Only 750 CZK (approx. $40)!!  It reminded me of how ridiculous the US medical system was. Probably the similar visit without the insurance would have cost me at least 10 times or even 20 times more.

I realized it was past 5pm when I got out of the hospital.  I guess that is the downside of the Czech medical system.  No appointment needed, but you need to wait for a long time.

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