Saturday, July 18, 2009

Here's an update for those concerned about Mark's uncle. We were all up in a tizzy about whether he was getting good care on his medical card (he has private insurance but isn't using it). We considered trying to get him to move to a private hospital.

For my non-Irish readers, I have to explain something that may seem strange. (And I hope I get this right.) So here you've got people with "Medical Cards," in which you get more or less free health care from doctors who have contracts with the Health Service Executive, or HSE and what they call "public" hospitals. Then you have people who've got private health insurance, who can see doctors that basically only deal with out of pocket patients and patients with private health insurance. Those people also have varying degrees of coverage for "private" hospitals. In other words, people who don't have a lot of money or who have low private hospital coverage on their health insurance go to public hospitals, and rich people or those with good health insurance go to private hospitals. So you can imagine how this plays out -- the public hospitals are overloaded and the care to the poor is compromised while the rich sit nestled in their private rooms.

So we returned to the hospital armed with loads of questions for the medical team about our uncle's various conditions (some caused from being hit by the taxi door, and others not), which include six fractured ribs, a torn ligament in the leg, upwards of five stomach ulcers, diabetes, and blood clots in his lungs. The poor man is in rough shape! I had everything written down on paper so I wouldn't forget. The doctor seemed a bit defensive, and it was a little stressful, but she answered all of our questions and at the end we felt satisfied that they were on top of the situation. Still, sharing a room with five other guys is pretty grody. The air is completely stagnant in his end of the ward, and it isn't helped by some of the patients not being able to get up to use the toilet. But the good news is that he's becoming a bit more mobile, and seems to be getting decent care, which will hopefully lead to his return home very soon.

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