July 05, 2010 Larisa Goes to the Doctor

Posted in Rodger's Russia Book | Posted by rodger |

Larisa has a cold and decided to go the doctor. She had the same two choices that I had, go to the local, and free, hospital and stand in line for hours waiting to be helped by a doctor who could care less, or go to a private doctor. Fortunately, we have a private clinic now.

We got there about 11:30 and Larisa got right in to see the doctor. Not a fancy place, but they had a public john, clean linoleum, and soft benches. By noon, the doctor had determined that Larisa had a serious case of bronchitis, had written her a handful of prescriptions, and decided that Larisa needed to be checked for pneumonia. That takes an x-ray. She also prescribed an infusion of vitamin spiked Saline solution.

We don’t have a lot of x-ray machines in Prochlodney, and the doctor doesn’t have any saline solution.

First choice: go to the public hospital about a block away. They have a machine. Unfortunately, they also have a long wait and she might or might not get in before closing time. Second choice: Uncle Victor is the primary x-ray reader at a small hospital on the other side of town. Of course, they close the x-ray department at noon and people start going home at 2:00. Unhandy when it is now 1:00. But, for family, Victor got his nurse to take the x-ray after hours and even LENT us the film. Patients have to bring their own x-ray film and we didn’t have time to stop on the way,

On the way back to the clinic, we stopped to purchase the antibiotics, decongestant, expectorant, saline solutions, drip bag, infusion needles, tubing, and gauze pads for the infusion. The nurse will do the infusion, but the patient has to leave the clinic, run out to the pharmacy for supplies and bring them back. Oh, and the drug store was out of x-ray film, so Larisa had to stop at several other stores on the way home to look for the film.

We got back to the clinic about 2:30 and then Larisa waited about an hour to start the infusion. She got right in but they only had one infusion stand, and some one else was using it.

Yep. Wonder how many patients die because they are not strong enough to run out to the pharmacy for nitro pills?

It’s not a crazy as it sounds. O.K. it IS as crazy as it sounds, but there is, I think, a reason behind the madness.

It is only my theory, but I do know that the communist constitution promised, among other things, free housing, job security for all, and free health care. What it didn’t specifically guarantee was free medication. It seems that in order to stick to the letter of the law and still save badly needed money, they separated “heath care” from medication. The hospital and doctors were guaranteed to be free to all, but you had to get your own medicine.

That has varied a little over the years, and the hospital where Larisa worked provided free drugs for cancer patients with expensive prescriptions. There was, however, never enough to go around and many people died early from lack of medications. It was very depressing to be a doctor in those conditions.

50 years of culture is hard to change, so in all but the most modern clinics and hospitals, there is still a separate pharmacy and larger hospitals have people (not hospital employees) who make a living running down to the pharmacy for bedridden patients.

I swear that I will never, never, complain about Kaiser again.

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