MEDICINE IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
"Whatever you do, don't get sick in the Dominican Republic." Yes, this was sage advice given to us by the senior missionary couples in Santiago.
No worries, I haven't had any problems and certainly Elder Fagersten has been very healthy. However, it wasn't long before my first encounter with the Dominican medical system. After wading through that I vowed that I would never use the medical system again. When am I going to learn to watch what I say! I have now been to three hospitals in the Dominican Republic and I have found them to be just about the same. Some are worse than others, but not by much.
Just remember that looks can be deceiving. The outside is somewhat welcoming.
However, I was not prepared for what I experienced when I entered the hospital.
No worries, we feel safe because there are always security guards to make sure we are protected. They all carry the same style of sawed off shotguns.
I had been sick for about a month, thinking, hoping and praying I would get over whatever it was that I had. I continued to ignore my illness until I couldn't ignore it anymore. I was in bed more than I was out of bed, my blood work indicated that I had need of medical attention. I had no options but to go to the hospital. The sanitary conditions are virtually nonexistent.
The emergency room was filled with people, we had a bed and the nurse came in to draw my blood. I was having a kidney stone attack. "I have to throw up!" So the nurse reaches the garbage can and gives it to me. Really, I am going to throw up in this garbage can used by how many people that day? The nurses and doctors go from patient to patient without washing their hands. When questioned about that protocol, their answer was "Oh, we're trying to keep costs down." Hmmm, my confidence in their care was waning.
I was admitted and taken to a room. My IV tree didn't have rollers on it so I had to have Gary drag the tree around for me. He was a good sport.
This is my bed, a random oxygen tank and my end table. This mercury thermometer (which they put under my armpit to take my temperature) was literally thrown in the drawer in this table. Oh, by the way, there are no pillows, blankets or hospital gowns provided. I was grateful to have a sheet on my bed and a bar of soap in the bathroom.
This is the closet where I was to store my personal belongings. I thought I would let the bugs keep the closet to themselves. Gary was good enough to sweep the cobwebs from the ceiling and clean up the area a bit.
Since I was having a procedure in the hospital, they brought breakfast to Gary. Chocolate milk and "grilled" cheese. They don't use butter on their bread, but they do cut the crusts off the bread :-) Gary took one bite, covered the food back up (he decided he wasn't interested in breakfast) and we had to leave for my procedure. When we returned an hour and a half later, we found his breakfast sandwich filled with ants. . .
Needless to say, when we returned to the United States I was so grateful to receive my care in a sanitary environment. All of the doctors in the Dominican Republic were very kind and caring, but they have very difficult situations they have to work in with very limited resources.
We were in the United States for two months. We were able to be with some of our family and see some of our grandchildren, which was a thrill for us.
I am very grateful for all of the prayers, love, support and help I received from so many of you. Gracias! (And you thought I couldn't speak Spanish!)