Saturday, April 01, 2006

Doctor Typ0

You’ll be pleased, no doubt, to hear that I ended up going with my tour group to Humayan’s Tomb on Wednesday despite my vow to skip out on this site. Even though this was my 3rd or 4th visit, it was still fun as the weather had not yet grown terribly evil and hell-like. We ended the morning of site-seeing by checking out Sarfdajung’s tomb, which actually turned out to be super close to home. Go fig! I’m taking Big Bro S (BBS) to both places in a few weeks so I’ll save the blog-tour 'til then.

In the meantime, allow me to share with you my new views on the joys of Indian healthcare. Since we’re off to Kenya for the weekend, I needed my Yellow Fever shot ASAP as without it they won’t let me in Kenya or back into India after the fact. Stupid rules. Hubby gave me the 411 on the shot and explained to me that it had to be administered by an officially sanctioned hospital or health center and that these are usually government run. In fact, he continued, non-cool centers won’t even have the vaccine.

After debating where we should go for the vaccine Hubby shot down my vote for Max Med and called the Health People (I’m sure they had an official name but I don’t recall) and asked where we should head. The answer: an Indian-run hospital near Connaught Place. I wasn’t thrilled with the news but Hubby told me I had no choice so we climbed in the car and told our driver where we were going. He gave us a weird look and asked if we were sure. At our nod, he bobbled his head and started off toward CP.

We approached a series of rundown buildings that I thought was a stockade or at least a condemned area. Only slightly daunted, we headed into the main building where Hubby and I were the easily whitest people to have ever crossed the threshold. And, no, I’m not being a hater. We got such weird and astonished looks as we tried to read the signs and find the vaccination clinic that a kindly turbaned doctor finally took pity on us and took us into his office where our “fairness” could no longer offend or confuse the hospital’s general population.

The good doctor sent us out to another building to get our shots and even gave us his assistant to show us the way. The assistant naturally wanted a tip upon our arrival but we pretended ignorance, thanked him, and sent him away empty handed.

The assistant brought us to a tiny room filled and surrounded with people holding their passports and yellow vaccination cards – we were in the right place. We walked up to the scruffy-looking desk jockey whom, we were told, was in charge. He looked over my passport and yellow card and told us… Well, we’re not sure what he told us, so we just kinda stood there like bumps on logs and hoped for further direction.

A woman with dirty fingernails (seriously, I could see the dirt!) sat behind a table to my right and was administering the vaccine to people in no particular order. The vaccine itself came in a communal bottle we were told held 20 doses. After each shot, the woman dipped the needle in this machine that we determined, based on the smoke that appeared each time, melted the tip of the needle so as to render it un-re-usable. She then threw that out and opened a new needle. Despite viewing these precautions I felt really iffy about getting my shot in a room that looked like it hadn’t seen the happy side of disinfectant in at least a year.

I can’t say that I was deeply saddened when Scruffy Guy got all attitude on us and said that the clinic was closed and if we wanted a shot we would have to come back later in the week. Now, I’m not going to deny that I got slightly pissed at the guy. After all, we had been waiting for quite some time for this shot and the excuses he gave us held about as much water as my hot water gieser (AKA none).

Still grumbling, we left the hospital grounds via the rather smelly service road. Undaunted, yet still unwilling to admit I may have been right, Hubby directed our driver to take us to the Max Med Clinic in Pansheel Park. Max Med is a cash on service, private clinic cum hospital that caters to expats, and middle to upper class locals.

There is honestly no way to fully appreciate the modern-ness, efficiency, and organization of Max Med unless you’ve been to an Indian hospital. The people spoke decent English, were helpful, and even the waiting room appeared clean. She was even nice about the rather obvious fact that I am a 2 year old when it comes to getting shots.

The professional services we received took no more than 20 minutes. Why the heck didn’t we start with this world-class clinic rather than using as a last resort? Compared with the Real World, the medical care here is frightfully inexpensive. Hubby has even headed back to the Clinic since that day and had a full physical (including numerous lab tests) for less money than you’d pay for a night at a martini bar with me in the States. He even had all the results in less than 24 hours!

After our brief excursion into the Indian medical system, I can honestly say that while it isn’t perfect, it can be pretty darn good. So next time you need laser eye surgery, open heart surgery, or even need a broken bone set, head over to Delhi where you can get an incredibly well trained doctor to do a great job at half the price of your local Real World Quack.

Welcome to India, the doctor is in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seeing that I/we must also get our Yellow Fever injection, I hope that we have better luck our first time out. We do, however have to go find a clinic that deals with injection oddities that allow you to go to places like Kenya as the local Doc doesn't do these specialities .....