Testing of the health care 8 October 2012

This weekend was one of the few times I knew I was living in a foreign country and really didn’t want to be there.  Fortunately, everything worked out fine and Doug will recover.  Even throughout, he was still joking with the doctors and nurses…how typical.  I was the one who freaked out.

I woke up on Thursday  morning to find Doug still in bed.  As he usually is up hours before me, I thought this quite unusual.  As it turned out, he spent most of Thursday in bed with severe pains in the right side of his lower abdomen.  He got up for a couple short excursions, but soon was laid out again.  I asked him on several occasions if he wanted to go to a doctor, but he declined saying we had appointments on Friday.

We were up early on Friday as Doug was scheduled to give blood at a lab in Talara to check his blood sugar level.  He said he was feeling better, but still quite tender.  After the lab, we drove to Piura where I had an appointment with my cardiologist at mid-day.

When we arrived at the clinic in Piura, I checked in for my appointment and also requested an appointment for Doug.  Doug was attended to quite quickly by a super nice woman doctor.  She examined him, but wasn’t sure what was causing the pain as he had no fever to indicate a problem with the appendix.  She sent him to another clinic to have and ultra-sound done; the only problem was that we had to wait until five o’clock.

The doctor doing the ultrasound checked Doug’s stomach, kidneys, intestines and then found an inflamed appendix.  He also found some liquid surrounding the appendix which would indicate that it had ruptured.  We knew we were in for a long night.

Back at the first clinic, we saw the same doctor who then transferred Doug to a surgeon within the same clinic.  This transfer happened almost immediately as she had her nurse/assistant accompany us back through reception and we were put on the top of the list to see the surgeon.  He also examined Doug and concurred with the diagnosis and the decision was made to hospitalise Doug as he would need emergency surgery.

I should describe this clinic; Clinica Miraflores.  The clinic is a three of four story building without a large footprint; probably equivalent to a small medical office building in the states.  On the first floor is reception where all patients check in.  There is also a pharmacy and a very small cafeteria (maybe four tables for four).  Then down a hallway, there are offices off of both sides…maybe 12-15 spaces.  The hallway itself is lined with plastic chairs full of people waiting to see the doctor.   In general, you don’t get an appointment time with the doctor, but you get on a list…..you might be first or tenth, depending on what order the doctor’s nurse puts you.  I think this comes out to be first come, first served; but I know some get bumped up (or down) for whatever reason.  All of the doctors vary in their specialties.  There are opthomologists, internal medicine doctors, surgeons, ear-nose-throat specialists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists……  Also, at the end of the hall is a laboratory for drawing blood, etc.

On the second floor is a nurses station and a hallway with patient rooms.  This is part of the clinic’s hospital.  The operating theatres and recovery rooms are on the third floor.  Each patient room is equipped with a bed for the patient, another bench/bed for family, a side table, a chair, a television and a bathroom.  The patient bed is made up with sheets and a plastic barrier to protect the mattress and a pillow; but no blanket or paper barrier.   The small bed only has a bottom sheet.  The bathroom has a shower with hot water, a sink and a toilet; but no toilet paper, soap, or towel (paper or otherwise).  All of these “extras” had to be purchased and/or provided by the family of the patient.  The pharmacy downstairs has envelopes of shampoo, small hotel sized bars of soap but didn’t have towels, toothbrushes and paste.  Definitely bare bones..

The entire clinic is self contained (except for the ultrasound) and functions quite efficiently.  Doctors have their offices within the same building as their offices where they see patients on a day to day basis.  Referrals are easy as they are in the same clinic.  Emergencies are sent upstairs.

Doug was scheduled for surgery at 10 p.m. on Friday and was back to the room by a bit after midnight.  Sheyla, Juana and Sanchez’s niece and a friend of ours, came and kept us company all night.  What a sweetie….especially since she slept in the chair and the floor!  Doug was not given general anaesthesia, but had four epidural injections.  The up side was he wasn’t completely groggy and out of it; but the epidurals were very, very painful.  The appendix had burst which meant the surgeon needed to clean out the abdominal cavity as well as remove the appendix.  But all went fine and we spent the night without incident.

Saturday and Sunday passed slowly.  Fortunately there was TV; but neither of us were prepared to spend a night away from home and didn’t have a change of clothes or toiletries.  Doug, at least, had a fresh hospital gown each day.  I went to buy some clothes, a towel, a pillow for me and toiletries.  The surgeon felt confident enough that there was no infection and let us go home on Monday.

Incredibly, this was the bill:

  1. pharmacy; S/.1315 ($526)
  2. lab; S/.80 ($32)
  3. operating room; S/.325 ($130)
  4. hospital room for 3 nights; S/.420 ($168)
  5. surgeon; S/.540 ($216)
  6. other operating room personnel;S/.248 ($99)


Thanks for everyone’s concern, prayers and love.
I highly recommend everyone take a “travel kit” with them when traveling away from home even though you don’t plan on being gone overnight. This kit would include toothbrush and paste, deodorant, shampoo, comb or brush, change of clothes (especially underwear), essential medications, phone charger and a book (or something else for entertainment).


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