Hospital Visit

Things in Ecuador just work differently. Today, we saw more evidence of that fact as we headed to the local hospital for the first time (no, I didn’t have to ride in an ambulance).

About three weeks ago, I took a spill off my bike while trying to jump onto a cement parking curb…not wise. Anyway, I scraped up my back pretty good and injured my right index finger. My back is mostly healed, but my finger has been in pain ever since. I knew it wasn’t broken, but since I use that finger to play bass, take photos, and type (among other things), I figured it was worth a trip to the doctor. Hence today’s adventure…

Around 12:10pm, after finishing some business at the school, we hopped into a cab and drove a few miles to one of the local hospitals that has English-speaking doctors. Once inside, we were instructed to fill out a few forms (though we forgot our insurance cards at home) and then told to wait in the waiting room. After only about 2 minutes, we were ushered into a sparsely decorated examination room where a nurse soon showed up to take my vital signs. After a few more minutes of waiting, a doctor showed up. He spent several minutes examining my fingering and concluding that nothing was broken or fractured. It is likely just a sprain. He then explained how there’s not much he can do at this point (3 weeks after the accident), but that 15 minutes of hot/cold treatment 3 times a day would help to speed the healing process.

So, great news! My finger is going to be fine and the hot/cold treatments are already proving successful. But that’s not the end of the story.

The doctor left the room after giving his diagnosis and we just sat there for a few minutes, unsure of the process. What next? Do we wait for a nurse to return? Do we check with the front desk? After about 5 minutes of waiting, we decided to try the front desk. “Mr. Johnston?”, they asked. Yes. “You’re free to go”. Wait, but we hadn’t paid anything. People aren’t allowed to physically leave a hospital in Ecuador unless they’ve paid in full and we’re being told that we don’t owe anything? Correct. We walked out of the hospital just before 1pm without spending a dime!

So, our trip to the emergency room can be summarized like this:

Less than 1 hour.
Prompt medical care.
Competent staff.
Free.

Things really are different in Ecuador! For those of you who read my Twitter post this morning and prayed for our trip to the hospital, thank you! God definitely came through…I couldn’t have imagined a better outcome!

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doug August 20, 2012 Uncategorized