For the past week I have been assisting a lady whose husband is in the Regional Hospital. He came to the Regional Hospital after spending time in the Mae Lewis hospital. I was told that the bill in Mae Lewis was $28,000 for two weeks.
The decision was made to enter the Regional Hospital to get costs under control. The plan is when the patient is stabilized to return to the U.S. for final treatment.
The lady, I am working with, is paying a private nurse $150 a week and the nurse is also acting as her Spanish/English translator.
The current problem is that the patient is in a special unit in the Regional Hospital and to get information from the doctor, the wife has been told that the doctor will only communicate with her between 6AM-6:30AM. It is currently unknown if the doctor speaks English.
To complicate things more, the wife had a stroke a year ago and is still suffering effects from it. This means that she needs to get a large amount of rest and sleeps from 8PM until 8AM and that prevents an early AM meeting with the doctor.
The U.S. Embassy contacted the hospital and was told that the process would require communicating with the Social Worker in the Regional Hospital and having that he Social Worker be the interface. From previous visits with the social workers in the Regional Hospital. I know that they speak Spanish and have little to no English capability.
I said I would come today and be her interface with the social worker. The social worker’s offices are on the fourth floor of the hospital.
I am going to step out on a limb a little and give you my current thinking based on my ongoing experiences. In this case, the private nurse that is being employed, has told me that the care that this individual has received in the Regional Hospital has been better than what was given in Mae Lewis. That was her opinion.
As I have said before, the doctors in the Regional Hospital also practice in the private hospitals. However the daily costs for everything is much lower in the Regional Hospital.
In my mind the key factors to good care boil down to a couple key factors.
The first and most important is having a good doctor that has the reputation for quality care and more I interested in patient care and less in diagnosing the more expensive treatments. It is very important to research your doctor well.
The second is to have family and/or friends that will put in the time to monitor the care being given. Sometimes the difference between living and dying is someone that cares being vigilant.
The third, and still very important, is the ability to communicate in Spanish. I can’t emphasize how important this is. In your vocabulary, you must add the parts of e body, pain, temperature, etc. if you don’t have that ability, you need to have easy access to someone that can act as your interface.
As I write this, I have been waiting for a social worker to return to their office. There are two offices and it has been almost an hour and no one to be found. My patience is up and I am going to search for the worker.
I learned something. I was not waiting in front of the main social workers offices. The mail office is also on the fourth floor, but down the hall from the two offices I was waiting at.
OK. I am completing this after talking with the Social Worker, who immediately got me an appointment with the doctor. All information has been confirmed and transferred to the wife so she can now do a little more planning. I will say that I was impressed with the doctor that I talked with.
I have been think about a couple items, I will run by my readers to get an opinion.
The first is creating a list of volunteers that would be willing to check on patients in the David hospitals that don’t have family members who can do that. Anyone that is willing to do that can drop me an email. It would be good if you can speak Spanish, because you may have to talk to doctors and/nurses and you should not expect all or any of them to speak English.
I sometimes have received requests from the U.S. Embassy to see people in the hospital that I have not been able do, and that list would help me.
The second item, is that I am considering setting up a website that could be used to communicate to others in Chiriquí, experiences and recommendations for doctors with various specialities. This is obviously a tricky item, because it would be easy for some doctors to have themselves recommended to get access to English speaking clients.
It would also be easy to have negative experiences posted that could damage reputations and invite legal suits. Setting up the website is the easy part. I am interested on thoughts related to its practicability and associated risks.