Bangkok Hospital, Rayong, Thailand

February 24, 2013

Always at your service

Our neighbors disappeared.  Stopped by the apartment on Monday afternoon to see if they wanted to join us for a game of golf and was told that Saimi was experiencing some unpleasant pains in the upper part of her abdomen.  She wasn’t too worried, as they were heading back to Finland in a week, so she would go to her Finnish doctor.  When I checked on Tuesday to see how Saimi was, there was no answer.  Wednesday, it was the same.  I peeked through the window but there was no movement in the apartment.

Now you may think it strange that I would go around checking on my neighbors, however, having lived in foreign countries most of my life, I have developed a distinct sense of community.  When you live abroad, especially when you live in a country with a language and culture dissimilar to your own, you tend to take a different view of happenstance.   In this country, Thailand, language most definitely erects communication barriers.  Consequently, the members of  an expatriate community tend to work together and support each other.

So, after a second and third attempt to make contact with our neighbors, I decided to investigate.  I checked with a couple of other neighbors until I found someone who informed me that Saimi had left for Bangkok Hospital and had already been operated on.  My husband and I talked it over and decided to drive to Bangkok Hospital in Rayong to see if everything was alright.  Rayong is about a 45-minute drive from our area.

Parking, we discovered, was a real dilemma.  Forgive me, but Thais do not like to walk, so very often they are very creative in finding parking spaces.  We did not want to be boxed in by a car which was double parked, or a car parked so close it would be inconceivable to maneuver out of  our own parking space at the appropriate time.  We circled around with a few other cars, and not being averse to walking, drove across the street where we found ample parking.  It was only a short walk to the hospital, so we couldn’t see why parking should be such an issue.

When we arrived at the entrance of the hospital, we were greeted with the usual folded hands and “Sabbadi kha” greeting and a friendly smile.  For those patients who were being delivered to the door of the hospital, the attendant opened the door and helped the passengers out of the cars.  There were several wheelchairs by the door and personnel to help patients into the wheelchairs, take them to the check-in desk and attend to the patients until they were safely situated in the appropriate section of the hospital.

We inquired at the reception where we could find our friend and were given very clear instructions with a smile to which we replied “Kop kon kha” and proceeded to the elevator.  Here we were greeted by the elevator attendant – reminded me of the elevator girl in downtown Portland in the building where I worked around 1969.  Since few hospital personnel could speak English, I was able to practice a little Thai, which I have found the Thais greatly appreciate.  The elevator attendant pushed the button to the floor to which we were to proceed, held the doors for us, smiled and sent us up to the sixth floor.

As we stepped out of the elevator, we were greeted by a sign “Luxury Rooms.”  Well, apart from the halls being spotless, the staff friendly and smiling, we were quite impressed with the wood paneling along the walls and the beautiful wooden doors.  We were even more impressed when we saw the suite!  A closet, a desk, spotless floors, large screen t.v. with all the important channels – CNN, BBC, etc. -a sofa a sink, but no toilet!  The room was the size of a studio apartment.

When we picked up our neighbors to take them home the next day, we were met at the entrance where Saimi waited in a wheel chair.  Kalle asked me to take Saimi to the toilet, so I took hold of the wheelchair and proceeded to the reception to ask for directions for the toilet.  Oh dear, wrong move.  An attendant rushed over immediately and took command of the wheelchair.  When I asked her where the toilet was, I was met with a puzzled, embarrassed look.  No problem.  So I just said, “Hong naam ti mai,” and away we went.  When we got to the bathroom, the attendant helped Saimi out of the chair and helped her into the room.  When Saimi came out, she was again helped back into the wheelchair.  When we arrived at the entrance to the hospital and my husband pulled up with the car, there were two or three hospital personnel ready to help Saimi into the car.

We talked about the experience of being in a private Thai hospital, and were told that one of the Swedish men here had gone to the hospital and enjoyed it so much – nice room, good t.v. channels, good service, good food – that he refused to go home.  Apparently, the family went through quite a bit cajoling and negotiating before the an to consented to go home.

Although most expatriates have medical insurance which would cover any mishaps and health issues, I am sure the fees at Bangkok Hospital are commensurate with the services and treatments rendered at the hospital.  I was told that before any treatments are started at the hospital, a deposit is required and then the insurance matters are attended to – all of which is quite fast and efficient.  So, you really need to have the insurance papers ready, or a hefty bank account to prove that payments will be made before any procedures are initiated.

Despite the fact that the hospital and surroundings, exceptional treatment, qualified doctors and nurses, as well as other personnel, are a tribute to the medical profession in Thailand, I think I would prefer to remain healthy and fit.