Friday, September 3, 2010

Healthcare in attention America!

Well - we have had another new experience on this wild adventure to Guatemala. Lee and Anna Kate have both had a nasty cough for several days. We know with all the rain and damp conditions its not likely to go away on its own, but rather get worse. SO - we made the decision to go see a doctor. YIKES! Where do I start on all the reservations I have about this prospect.
Let me just say that I am seriously prejudiced against most doctors that are not our beloved pediatrician from home. We love him and I hate seeing other doctors who always pale in comparison to his calm, friendly, knowledgeable bed-side manner. I was dreading this experience.
Lee's Spanish teacher helped us get an appointment with her pediatrician for Anna Kate and the school recommended a doctor for Lee, but we had to just walk in without an appointment. When we walked into the doctor for Lee, the waiting room was open to the outside where it was POURING down rain. The waiting room consisted of one receptionist at a small desk and several plastic outdoor chairs and of course the waiting room magazines. (Side note - they had a huge stack of American Airlines in-flight magazines in English - I read at least four!) Praise the Lord - the receptionist could speak enough English to tell us that the doctor was at an emergency and would be back around 5:00 pm.
We walked around the corner and went to the pediatrician's office. He shares office space with a dentist and an OB. Nothing in this waiting room looked like a waiting room in the US. It was old, dingy and NOT sterile. If I went to this pediatrician in the US, I would promptly turn around and leave and then bathe everyone in hand sanitizer. I like my doctors office clean, pristine and sterile. It's funny how your attitude changes when the options are limited. We waited a while and then the doctor himself called AK and I into his office. You see, his office and the exam room are one and the same. We sat by his desk and Praise Jesus he could speak just enough English too! He asked the normal questions, he weighed her and measured his height, etc. He did all this himself - no nurse! Most of his equipment for examining her came right out the laptray drawer of his desk. He checked her out, said she just needed a good cough medicine to knock it out. Surprisingly, I was pleased with the experience. He was warm, interested and thorough. He gave us a cough medicine from his unlocked cabinet next to his desk. We paid for the appointment and walked out the door.
We returned to the other doctor's office and waited for his return. He arrived a little after 5:00 and he took Lee back to his office. Again, he did all the work - no nurse. He spoke English well and was very warm. He took great care of Lee, prescribed some meds for the cough and irritated throat. Meanwhile, I was in the waiting room with the wild indians. (Parker & AK) At this point, we had been out and about for several hours and they were bored out of their minds - not sure why I didn't think to bring a book or games to play. I kept thinking - this is taking forever. Well, Lee struck up an interesting conversation with the doc. The doctor is also a local pastor of a church - which makes him a very busy man. He teaches Crown Ministries at his church as well as some parenting and family ministry classes. He recommended some great materials to Lee. They had a very interesting conversation about the culture here and how that effects ministry among the indigenous people. He really enjoyed meeting the doctor and felt he got excellent personal care.
We walked a few blocks to the Farmacia (pharmacy) and purchased the prescribed meds. Here is the big kicker - when all the receipts were added up for two office visits and meds - it only cost $80. That's all up and in - no co-pay. Back in the US - we would have spent more than $80 just paying for co-pays on the office visit and the prescription co-pays. (For those wondering about our insurance - we do have insurance, but we won't submit these minor incidents for reimbursement. It drives the cost of our premiums up. We will use our insurance for emergency or major medical expenses.) Anyway - I was astounded that we got excellent care for such a small cost. Perhaps I won't miss the medical community in America as much as I thought. Nationalized healthcare might have something to learn from the small independent doctors of the less-developed nations.
Lee and AK are already on the mend - both slept well last night with no coughing. Just another day in a foreign land...the adventure continues...we continue to learn and grow....the Lord continues to provide and care for us. Blessings on you our dear friends and family!


  1. Angel, Cheryl had the same experience last April when she had to go to the doctor in Pana. $20 for office visit and prescription.


  2. So sorry I did not know about your blog sooner, just read the newsletter and saw the address, its bookmarked thanks for posting and allowing us to catch up, praying for you guys.