Monday, July 1, 2013

Reflections of Our 2013 Adventure in South Korea

I must be honest and say that the pictures of Rocketman's feet hanging off of the Korean hospital beds still makes me chuckle and if I can laugh at all after all that happened over there I'm doing pretty good.

I learned so much about Korean health care throughout this ordeal and I had always been a fan of their socialized medicine. When we had used it for minor issues during our three years living there, I thought the care was topnotch and the cost was bargain basement. My feelings have done a 180. Now, I can't speak for hospitals in Seoul, we may or may not have gotten different treatment but I was always a big fan of Ajou Hospital in Suwon.

Ajou was in the news a lot in January 2011 when pirates held a Korean ship hostage. The Koreans came in and killed the pirates and rescued the crew but the captain of the ship was gravely injured. He was brought to Ajou for treatment and he eventually recovered. It is also the hospital where injured Samsung workers (Samsung's headquarters is in Suwon) are taken when injured. All this instead of a Seoul hospital. I felt it must be one of the best.

So here are my observations and opinions of Ajou and the Korean health care system:

1. The Korean government guidelines which disallowed surgery on a kidney stone 5mm or smaller. No exceptions. If you proceeded like we did, you would have to pay the entire hospital bill in full.

2. If you are going to go to the Emergency Room, do it before 10 am. The beds fill with people and you will be stuck sitting in a seat and even getting treatment in that seat. We saw this time and time again.

3. A family member is expected to stay with the patient at all times. They do provide a pullout dorm room size bed which is hard as a rock. I left every night and slept in the hotel and I'm sure I got a lot of raised eyebrows.

4. The nurses are really there to administer meds and take vitals. Bring your own toiletries and you or a family member will be responsible for bathing, washing hair, shaving and brushing your teeth.  Even getting water is done by the family member or patient.

5. Nurses run everywhere. I ran into a couple of them and gave them wide berth.

6. Your family member is also responsible for changing your sheets and pillowcase and your hospital gown. There is a cart by the nurse's station with all the linens. I did have to ask for Rocketman's gown because it was so large, they had to get it from another floor.

7. In the basement, you will find restaurants including a Burger King. There is also a store where you can buy the patient items like a thermometer (which I did) and bedding so they don't have to sleep on the floor, I mean the mattress which does feel like sleeping on the floor.

8.  Your hospital food is delivered but you are responsible for returning it to the cart.

9.  No one checks out on Sunday. Doctors are not working that day and no one can be released because of that.

10. The doctor's don't seem to leave orders for the nursing staff. Every little change had to be approved by the doctor.

11. There are a lot of patients that don't seem very sick to me. The hallways were crowded with patents walking around. A lot would plant themselves on the bench across from the elevators and spent the day watching people come and go.

12. You must pay your bill in full before they will let you leave. Generally, you have to pay for services before you get the services but once Rocketman was admitted, I signed a contract promising to pay the bill in full before we left.

13. When Rocketman's fever was so high not only did they want him to hug a 10 pound frozen water bottle but to walk around the hallways very, very fast.

14. Expect lots of visitors. When all of our friends heard about Rocketman, they made the trek after work to get down to see him almost every day. I told them that it was unnecessary knowing how long they work and how long it takes to get to Suwon from Seoul but it was to no avail. But having them there was the best medicine for Rocketman and for me. We truly are family and felt so much love.

15. I was really shocked to find out that Ajou did not have Toradol in IV form. This is the ONLY drug that will immediately erase the intense and horrible pain of a kidney stone. I really don't get it.

16. Taxi drivers can put on their flashers and beep their horn and that gives then permission to ignore traffic signals. I'm not a big fan of this because we came very, very close to two serious crashes in a week's time.

17. There are two sets of elevators: one for patients with doctors and nurses and one for family members. I got told in Korean by an ajumma when I made the mistake of using the wrong elevator. 
It took one time of getting on the elevator only to have it not stop on my floor to read this notice. When you press the floor you want it gives you an elevator number and that is the elevator you need to enter.
            So on this screen, I would press 12 and it would tell me which elevator to wait for.
When you entered, it would tell you all the floors it would stop on. I'm not sure the reason for this except to make the elevators more efficient but I have to tell you that the elevators were the slowest I have ever, ever, ever used.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...