First hand experience with the Health Care System
27.04.2011 - 03.05.2011 35 °C
We have not posted a blog recently because Dave became ill - very ill. It all started with just not feeling well one evening to coming home from work the next day at noon and going right to bed with a fever. For those of you who know Dave, he is never sick - and even if he is, he never stays home from work. At this point I knew we had an issue. He developed chills with the shakes like I have never seen before. These alternated with extreme sweating to the point he had to change clothes and bedding. Along with that he started to develop a headache which became so bad it was doubling him over with pain. We went to an excellent clinic and found a great GP. At the start he thought, as we did, it was the flu. As symptoms worsened we went back to him and he ran a battery of blood and urine tests and sent Dave for a chest X-ray and an MRI. The Health Care System is excellent here - you can get immediate emergency response when you need it. We went for the results of the tests the next day and the doc arranged for Dave's immediate admission to a great hospital. He came home from work ill on Thursday - he was in the hospital the next Tuesday night. The chest x-ray showed a mass in a lung. The MRI showed lesions in his brain. The blood work showed a significant infection.
In the hospital they put him on IV drugs to reduce fever and stop the shaking and sweats and also to deal with the pain. They gave him oxygen because by the time we got to the hospital he was short of breath. They also put him on 2 antibiotics again using an IV. Within less than 24 hours he had other chest x-rays and another more specific brain MRI. While they haven't said much yet it is our impression they think it is pneumonia. For the first time tonight, 24 hours after admission, Dave said that he feels better. He was even interested in having dinner.
We have been in very close contact with Dave's sister, Joni, who was instrumental in ringing the alarm bells early and getting us moving to getting medical help. She also has been an invaluable resource in advising us on questions to ask and steps to take.
We have been pretty impressed with the Health Care System here. Anyone with a work visa is covered by law by their employer. The clinics and hospitals are modern, clean, high tech, and very personable and caring. Also, what is amazing when we are so familliar with the high costs of US medical care, the costs here are really quite reasonable - or have been so far. A day in a semi private room costs 600 AED - about $150 Canadian. Prescriptions seem less expensive but we have not compared apples and apples yet. If you don't have local insurance it is pay now, claim later which is the plan we are on. We have been treated with courtesy and very promptly. There is little waiting because being late is very rude in this culture. If you have to wait, they are in to explain the reason and to provide any other information which would be helpful. Even though many people don't speak English well, it has been very easy to get by in English. We are truly fortunate to speak the international language. As one of Dave's friends said: "You picked a great place to get sick in". How true.
They are very conscious about contageous diseases here. In order to get a work permit you have to have a medical which includes blood tests for HIV and Hepatitis and a Chest X-ray for TB. Because they are concerned Dave might be contageous, they have moved him to a room alone - so he is in a lovely large semi-private room by himself. Initially he was in a room with another man they also think could have been contageous so they quickly moved to separate them. Dave was quite pleased because the other guy had lots of relatives and cell phone calls going on.
Here they have no objection to cell phones in the hospital room. They also have WiFi available for purchase if you wish it. Another interesting thing is that they have a room service menu which you can order from if you don't like the choices on the regular hospital menu. This comes with a cost but it is quite reasonable. Each menu offers about 4 choices for several courses of your meal. One course seems to be Indian food, one or two European offerings, and one other with is likely Arabic food. We have just been ordering what we recognized! So far Dave has found the food tasty and fresh. We haven't seen jello yet!