The Hospital for the Other 95%

A friend and neighbor mangled her thumb badly enough to require hospitialization 2 nites ago. Yesterday 5 of her neighbors, myself included, paid a visit.

There are 3 hospitals* in the Hua Hin area. San Paulo, a private hospital, is both very expensive and medically suspect for anything other than simple procedues, according to the expat forums.

Hua Hin Hospital, a public facility, is where most of the Thai people go. The local expat experiences has been that it’s adequate for simple things. It is the least expensive hospital.

Petcharat Hosptial is a 45 minute drive to the province’s largest town. The same folks that run the hospital run a clinic in town and consenses is they have been good at determining what can be handled in the clinic and what requires a ride north. It’s considered to provide the highest quality care of the three. It’s also the mid priced option.

My neighbor was taken to the public hospital. Wow. I’d never seen open wards except in movies. Some guy was was being worked on in an adjacent room, everyone got to hear is painful moans and groans. Obstretics was on the other side of the surgical ward so crying babies was the norm. My inner photojournalist was tempted to fire off a few shots with my cell cam but all the other voices in my head said that would be beyond inappropriate.

Seeing a family member or two camped out on the floor next to the patient’s bed wasn’t surprising, nor was how little space they had. What was surprising was what the hospital medical and facilities staff did and didn’t do for the patients, which was why a friend or family member was attending 24/7.

The staff, for example, will provide a bed pan but don’t expect them to do anything but set it next to the bed. My friend knocked her IV loose during the night and woke up with ‘blood everywhere’. She summoned a nurse who put the IV back in. She’s ambulatory so the staff won’t bring new sheets. She speaks enough Thai to find out where to go. Someone else’s family member in attendance helped her change the bed. It’s all about keeping costs down. That explains why the bathrooms and showers have no soap or tissue.

*A fourth option, the Hua Hin location of Bangkok Hospital has been open for outpatients. The hospital portion opens next week. It’s expected to be the highest quality facility and provide ample market pressure for San Paulo to lower their prices.

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