Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Visitors to Hospital Mexico

You can see our friend Joe's account of his experience with hospitals in an earlier post. Here is our experience *visiting* him. Rick and I agreed - we're very glad our first trip to a public hospital was as visitors. Now we will be a bit less worried when we go as patients (you know it will happen eventually).

So, after getting our Cédulas and driver's licenses in San José, - yes, all this on the same day :)

We catch the Alajuela bus towards the Hospital México, and ask the driver to tell us when we get there. He says he will, but... Of course, we miss the stop. We get off on the next stop - fortunately not too far, walk back and on to the Hospital. The hospital is like a circus, so we ask for help at an information window. They can't find Joe for quite a while, but finally tell us he is still in emergency. At about 4:00, the nurse leads us downstairs, and we wave to Joe through the window. She tells us to wait for the Doctor; it should be about 20 minutes. Well, about 4:30, we walk back to where we saw Joe, and the security guard shoos us into a waiting room - we have to wait for visiting hours at 5:00. Linda is there right before visiting hours start - she's been through this before; we give Joe's name, and they let us see him one at a time for about 5 minutes. He seems ok - he has a full face oxygen mask on, and can't talk without taking it off - we're just there to let him know we are looking out for him.
5:15 - we're back on the bus to Alajuela; it's rush hour, so we don't get to the last stop for another hour.
Boy, are we tired! We have our leftovers and conk out.

... The next day...

We caught the 11:00 bus from Alajuela, and got off at the correct stop for Hospital México. As we got off the bus, a very nice lady helped us cross the "muy peligrosa" street. She just grasped my hand, and we followed when she crossed. I am finding that this is so typical - so many helpful citizens. I felt like a Boy Scout in reverse :D

At the hospital, we go directly to the emergency waiting room (doesn't that sound like an oxymoron?), and wait for 12:00 visiting time. Linda appears, and we queue up. Then we find out that Joe is no longer in the emergency room (why didn't we check on this before?). We run around for a few minutes, then Rick asks the right guy - we have Joe's bed number, but (of course) visiting hours for the wards don't start until 2:00. So, Linda drives us all into San Jose, and we go to ARCR to get our hands held. Annabel is very nice - she talks to us a lot, and we feel a bit better about the situation. The hospital will not release Joe just to get him out of the way (what were we thinking?!?).
We grab a bite to eat, then head back to the hospital. My navigation skills are excellent - I was always able to point to the correct turn-off as we passed it :(.
At the hospital, we get in the line for the 6th floor visitors just before 2:00 (we're about the 4th group). Well... The people who run the visiting center don't even show up until 3:00 - by this time, I'm sitting down, and Rick and Linda are very tired of standing. To accommodate the long lines, the hospital folks had opened the doors to the outside. It was very strange seeing all these people zip up jackets and pull up their hoods against the breeze. It had to be 74 degrees! I guess it is all what you're used to.
We got to see Joe one at a time, but there was no time-limit. He was *much* better! He gulped down the yogurt drink I brought (he probably wasn't supposed to have it tho). He had a better oxygen system - no full-face mask, so he could talk easier without reducing his oxygen. He told us about the other patients in the room (there were 6 beds in the room). He said he is very happy with the care he is getting at the public hospital (all covered by his $36/month insurance).
Linda drives us all back to Jalapeño's in Alajuela - whew!

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