Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The waiting room

One requirement to enter parts of Africa, parts that I will be frequenting shortly, is that you need to have proof of certain vaccinations.  Yellow Fever, Hepatitis, DTP... all of which are valid for 10 years.  I received all three, 8 years ago, before moving to Brazil.  The only problem is, I don't have my vaccination passport.  It's in a box, a box which is located (most likely) in a storage closet, in my dad's new house.  Meaning: there was no way it would be found.

Instead, I opted for getting the shots over again.  I just didn't realize what sort of adventure it would entail.

Initially I contacted my house doctor (and was dreading doing so the entire time).  Once I finally got through to the receptionist, she informed me that I need to go to the health clinic for the shots and I don't need a referral from the doctor.  Phew, at least that was one thing I was able to avoid.

A few days later, I walked into the city health clinic around 7:45am, during the 30 minute time frame they've designated for registration.  Having already filled out the registration form I found online, I took a number and began to wait.  And wait.  And wait. 50 minutes later my number was finally called.  I was directed to an office where a lady transferred all the information I filled out on paper into the computer.  She handed me another number and told me to go back to the waiting room for that number to be called.  So, I went back and waited.  And waited.  And waited.

30 minutes later my number was called and I was directed to another office.  A healthcare official looked at the paperwork I had filled out.  We discussed where I was going.  She informed me of which vaccinations were necessary and which were recommended.  She marked the vaccinations I would be getting on my paperwork, along with the price I would pay for each.  I was given a booklet on ways to ensure a safe and healthy trip, which lead to a discussion of malaria tablets.  She pulled out another booklet describing the different pills available.  The first one she pointed out gave normally expected side effects, such as nausea, headaches, etc.  However, she stated, they are 3 Euros a pill, and I would need 21.  She then spoke of the other, cheaper, option.  She informed that it causes side effects such as the basic nausea, headaches, etc., along with nightmares, insomnia, depression and hallucinations. And as much fun as that sounded, I opted for the more expensive route.  Once that was cleared up, I was given the tally of what everything would cost and was requested to go back to the waiting room for my number to be called.

So, I went back and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  20 minutes later my number was called and I was directed to the cashier.  I presented her with my paperwork, swiped my debit card, received my receipt, and was asked to sit down and wait for my number to be called.  So, I sat.  And waited.  And waited.  15 minutes later my number was called, I entered yet another room.  This time I was directed to sit in a chair by a health professional who was surrounded by needles and vaccinations.  One minute and three shots later, I left the room.

As I walked out of the health clinic, I glanced down at my watch.  It was 10:15... 2 and a half hours after I arrived.  2 and a half hours for something that took one minute to do.  This, I thought, is the healthcare system I subject myself to in my chosen country of residence.  Socialized medicine with a twist... a 135€ Euro twist.


ReL said...

Wow...Well no worries, our country will be in the same boat before much longer so everyone can have such exciting trips to the health care facilities just like you enjoyed :-) lol.

Josh said...

I took those malaria pills for 3 months while I was in Central America and lost 30 pounds, a nice little side effect...