I’ll say this for the East/West medical center. They took good care of me. In the two days I spent there, I met with three different doctors, always had a full saline IV, and had a battery of tests, all in less than 48 hours. Plus, they let Natacha stay in the room with me, and fed us three meals a day the whole time we were there. I really did get back to health during my stay there.
Only to nearly faint again. When they presented us with the bill.
If Insurance had taken care of it, I wouldn’t have had a problem. But the front desk screwed up the contact with our insurance company, so we had to pay it up front. Which is when we looked at the bill.
And saw that every saline bag, every bit of medicine, every stool test (the first one came back negative; they told us the last two were “just to make sure”), and all three doctors visits…they charged for everything.
We soon realized that, actually, we could have left the day before…but they asked us to stay just a bit longer so the senior doctor could take a look at me. That senior doctor spent five minutes with me and told me that I was looking good, but should stick around the night just in case.
And when they couldn’t over-service, they over-charged. They charged Natacha a full bed rate for staying in my room, when the first night she slept in a chair and the second night a mattress on the floor. And we still shared the room with Sven the asshole. In fact, there was a variety of things they charged us for that they didn’t even supply!
We could have left at 11 am that Sunday morning, but arguing the bill took so long—including angry phone calls with an off-site administrator—that we didn’t get out of there until 4 PM. We argued with the young guy at the front desk who didn’t know how to do anything. We argued with the doctor on call who told the guy at the front desk to do things he didn’t know how to do. We argued with on offsite administrator by phone. Little by little, we pared down the bill to as closes as could to a fair price. And it still wasn’t all that fair. Whomever coined the term “India always wins” wasn’t kidding.
On the one hand, I did appreciate that they took good care of me. The hospital was clean, theneedles were sterile, and the food was decent. On the other hand, they also wantged to prescribe an MRI to me, even though I didn’t have a concussion, just so they could collect the money on the procedure. They were clearly taking advantage of me in a time of literal weakness. That’s just fucked up.
And we weren’t the only patients complaining about our bill. The East/West Medical center had two other patients yelling at them at the same time we were.
Come on…who needs three stool tests in two days?
We did make one friend while there—no, not Sven, smartass. A sweet-natured French lady whose three-year-old son came in for severe dehydration. He was doing much better by the time we left, running up and down the halls in a cape and generally being a healthy little handful. Why a woman was traveling in India with a three-year-old is another story altogether, one which in interest of her privacy I won’t tell here (though it’s a GOOD one).
By the time N & I left, it was almost 5 PM and we didn’t have enough time to find a new hotel room. We had kept our super-grotty A/C cel at the Lords, so we stayed in that for the night. Thanks to the gents there for cleaning the place up before we got back.
Having been in the hospital for two days, the friends we’d planned on visiting in Varkala had already left there. But, they had just arrived in Delhi, to run some errands before traveling to Kashmir and eventually Germany. Dani is a filmmaker friend of Natacha’s from New York, who had been spending time in India working on a film about her friend Ashik. Ashik was a Kashmiri jewler who had met Dani while working in Varkala. Dani was planning to make a film about his sister’s arranged marriage in Kashmir, and the two of them were getting some production errands done in Delhi before going up north. Which was fortunate, as it meant we got to spend some time with them while I recovered in Delhi. We had dinner with them in the Paranganj, me with a huge bandage on my head from when I passed out & cut my forehead. We hadn’t seen Dani in almost two years, and watching her & Natacha reunite was a true pleasure.
Returning to the room that night, we found the hotel travel agent, so we could settle up for the transportation to the hospital that he had arranged that fateful night. He charged us about five times a normal rate. We talked him down to triple rate, and even at that price I almost spat on his desk. India always wins.