Another day at the hospital

You may recall that I spent a few days in the public hospital nearly a year ago helping an epileptic boy and his mom. Well, today I spent the day in a different world! Today I was in the world of Hondurans who can afford better medical care. It was STILL a blog-worthy experience!
Becca and I were sent to the hospital for blood work and a CT scan for Becca and some blood work for me. Since our tests were to be done while fasting, we went bright and early Monday morning. Traffic was slow, but we made it to the hospital by 8. We found the lab with no problem, and it was clean and white. We had no fears of contamination – in fact, there was a gallon bottle of hand-sanitizer on the counter for anyone in need. Remember, at the other hospital there was not even soap in the bathrooms! They took our paperwork, copying the “orders” from my doctor onto an official hospital form, and told us we needed to go pay for the tests first and return with the receipts before we could have blood drawn. I’d forgotten that’s how it’s done here.
At the cashier, there is a ticket dispenser like you see at a meat or deli counter in a supermarket where you take a number. I took my number but didn’t sit down. Others were seated, patiently waiting, when a man came blustering in and just pushed his way up to the counter, where the cashier began to serve him. That was a bit frustrating; since it was nearly 9 am, and Becca couldn’t eat until she had done ALL of her tests! Then another guy came up and stood like a vulture over behind the other “butter”. When the first window opened up, I didn’t wait for the “Next!” I just jumped with my number held out like a sword, challenging any who might be tempted to cut in line! The cashier was very meticulous in how she checked over all the blood tests we were having. We talked about how careful she had to be to keep all these tests straight; she was very pleasant. While I was waiting, someone from radiology came up with a patient who had been charged for an X-ray, while the doctor’s orders said she needed an ultrasound. They argued a bit with my cashier, who had charged the woman incorrectly, but then she realized her error and asked the woman to have a seat.
It was 9:15 by the time we had finished our first round of tests, and I had to scarf my sack-breakfast while we got Becca to radiology for her CT scan. In THIS hospital, by the way, the cup was provided for the urinalysis, unlike the other where I had to run here there and everywhere in search of one for sale! At radiology, they told us that Becca couldn’t be seen until the afternoon, but that it didn’t matter because Becca didn’t have to do the test on an empty stomach. That was NOT what the doctor had said, so I questioned them. They called the technician, who gave confirmation.
Becca and I found a comfy couch in the reception area where we did school work while we waited the 2 hours for my second blood test. There was air conditioning and free purified water available – unlike the other hospital, which had NOTHING, and the only place to sit was on the patient’s cot (once we’d found one). We got more blood taken, and ran to pick up the rest of the family so we could head out of town from the hospital once we finished the CT scan.
When we arrived at our waiting area at 1:30, a fellow patient about pounced on me, asking if this was Rebecca. They had just called her back. Since she wasn’t there, they’d taken someone else instead. While we were waiting, all of the … older ladies who were waiting kept pestering any employee who walked into the waiting area, telling them which one was Rebecca and that she’d already been called. Then suddenly the woman who’d already gone back was sitting in the waiting area. She said there was no power to the machine. She’d started on Friday morning trying to get this study done, and there was just one problem after the next! On Friday, it seems the power had gone out to the whole area. She was ready to send us all home!
Since I was trying to plan the rest of our week, I went up to ask when we’d be able to get the results of the CT scan Becca was to have. They looked at me funny. Rebecca? Yeah. Rebecca. She’s here for a CT scan. No she’s not. Yes she is. I was here in the morning, and I was told to come back this afternoon. We were right outside the door when her name was called, but we’ve been waiting for half an hour now. But…. And she got up and left. She came back with the orders I’d given her. Apparently the doctor’s orders did NOT match what the cashier had charged us for! So when they had come to call Becca back, they were going to do some other test – NOT a CT scan! Thankfully, we hadn’t walked in yet, or they’d have done the wrong test, and we’d have had to start all over when we eventually after figured out that they’d done the wrong test!
As it was, we were escorted back to the cashier, who was busy with another customer. The same cashier (yeah, the one who had mischarged another patient!) had to correct the charges. So we waited. Again, someone tried to cut in line, but THIS woman said, “I’m sorry. There are others waiting. Take a number and have a seat.” We waited quite a while, but that was ok because Becca DID need to be fasting for this test! Again, it’s a good thing we weren’t taken immediately when we walked in the door! While I was still in line paying for the scan, they took Becca back to prep her.
Once we were properly charged (bummer – we had to pay more, not get a refund!), I went back to the waiting area. The other patients were there with news about where they’d taken Becca. These ladies were like my new best friends. They were appalled with what had happened, and one of them had experienced the same thing! So that’s 3 people in one day that were charged for a test they didn’t need and it was caught in time. What would have happened if Becca had been there when they first called her? They didn’t let me go back with her. We probably wouldn’t have caught the mistake!
As it turned out, one of my new friends was from the same denomination as we are, and loves our San Pedro church. The other had been out at camp the weekend we were in the city with the Kamper family. She loved her time at camp! It was neat to hear from someone who has been blessed by what we do here – even though we weren’t even present when she was here!
In summary, our experience was MUCH better at this clean, modern, well-supplied hospital than our previous one at the other hospital. Honestly, we don’t know how accessible this hospital is for the average Honduran with medical needs. Of course, what should have been a morning of testing took the entire day, and there were still the frequent mix-ups, even when the employee seemed so careful. This wasn’t a huge issue for us, since it was caught before the tests were run, but what if it were a SURGICAL procedure? What if we’d already had the test and had to pay hundreds of dollars for unnecessary testing AND the correct test on top of that? I guess it pays to question and double-check everything – no matter where you are!

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