My first encounter with private health care -- BKK style!
10.03.2009 34 °C
March 10th, 2009 – 8:07 pm
Let’s get one thing straight. I come from Saskatchewan, the birthplace of Medicare. I believe in universal health care, warts and all.
That being said, my Calgary buddies watched me effectively lose my cotton pickin’ mind just before I left trying to get a routine health check done in a city with a chronic shortage of doctors (for the non-Cowtown folks…I made FOUR visits and spent a total of EIGHT HOURS sitting in nasty medicentre waiting rooms for one damn piece of paper. Effing ridiculous. Jyly will always hold a special place in my heart for smuggling in a booze-filled flask and hanging with me on about the 7th hour when I was about to go UFC on the front desk staff…nothing like little people with their little circles of power. I digress…)
What I’m trying to say is that my last experience with our much-vaunted universal health care system almost resulted in grievous bodily harm. I was a woman on the edge. Let’s compare that with today’s trip to Samitivej Sukhumvit hospital in Bangkok for a routine immunization shot…
There were valets at the front roundabout. Valets my friends. Having no car to park, one gentleman opened my taxi door while another swept in with a sunshade umbrella and escorted me to the front doors and into the air-con. Oh yeah, similarities to the Mount Royal Medicentre abound. ??!!
Having spent about 1.3 seconds standing around looking confused, the resident multilingual “Expatriate Relations” lady sat me down, helped me fill out the registration forms and offered me a beverage. Upon learning that I was brand spanking new in Bangkok, she gave me the contact details of a local women’s group and presented me with her card and the invitation for a coffee and a chat if I was ever so inclined. After inquiring into my marital status (single my darlings, single), she cheerily informed me that the monthly Chamber of Commerce events were the best place to pick up men. Mental note. There was also a “Japanese Relations” desk for our Nihonjin friends. Not sure if they also dispensed dating advice.
After stopping at the marble countertop of the registration desk for a quick webcam picture for my file, I was ushered into a waiting room that most resembled the lobby of a five-star hotel. Plush sofas, complimentary copies of the Bangkok Post, bottled water and coffee on offer. Bellhops wheeling patients in chairs (perhaps they were orderlies? I swear they were dressed in the khaki and gold braid of bellhops). Totally surreal. The only thing that bore any resemblance to my experiences of medical facilities at home were the nurses’ desperately ugly shoes. I felt comforted with this last observation. The world was still on its axis.
And the actual medical services? My appointment was bang on time. The doctor was friendly and efficient. The nurses smiled and apologized for the “small pain” of the immunization needle. The cashier desk lady offered me a mint after processing my bill. And of course the valet called me a taxi while his colleague shaded me from the sun.
The bill for one Japanese encephalitis shot including doctor’s visit in this temple of premier medical service? $40 CAD. I paid $160 CAD for the previous immunization in the series at the Calgary Travel Clinic. No one offered me a hot beverage.
I could get used to this. But shhhhhhh! Don’t tell Tommy Douglas’s ghost I said that…