31 January 2019

Hospital experience in Koror, Palau

In the middle of the night my wife woke up with food poisoning, it looks like the green long beans at the buffet maybe were not well cooked or washed. Palau produces virtually no vegetables, they are all imported from the US. I suppose it might be easier to import them from Asia or Australia, but give the special relationship I am not surprised a lot of food comes from American farming. Even eggs I am told!

We hate having to wake up our cruise director but she is feeling really sick, even coughing blood.

Luckily our boat is not far from the port, and the skiff ride to shore in the moonless night takes only a few minutes.

The hospital is a simple structure but seems alright. I register her with a receptionist and get checked by a nurse before seeing a doctor: a young petite lady who wears a white mask and gloves. She sends us to an adjacent lab for a blood test. 

As I walk in the door there is no one to be seen but, after a few minutes, a really big betel-chewing guy with red gums shows up in a blue hospital apron and takes a sample of her blood. After some 20 minutes, we get the results. The soft-spoken doctor says not to worry it's not too serious and blood is just coming from her scraping her throat with the repeated vomiting.

On checking out, I'm pleasantly surprised to see a sign on the cashier's window that they accept my DAN (Diver Alert Network) insurance for their services. Except that they don't. When they see our cards they argue our policy does not include this eventuality. Insurance companies never cease to surprise. It's going to be 151 dollars for us. Could have been worse.

A poster on the wall encourages women to report domestic violence. It informs us that 37 percent of the victims in Palau don't ever tell anyone while 67 percent don't report it to the authorities.

Another poster explains ABC: babies must sleep Alone, on their Back and in a Crib. And without a pillow, but somehow the P didn't make it into the acronym. And by the way, no toys in the crib ...

Another poster warns about dengue fever: report asap any symptoms. I thought Palau was free of dengue but apparently it comes back from time to time.

On a happier note... an open box on the wall is full of condoms and a little colorful note taped to it encourages patients, or anyone passing along really, to take a free condom, "or 2 or 3..."

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