In Good Hands

Sometimes you need to kick the tires on something a few times to feel comfortable with it. And the past 24 hours has been a bit like that.

Since moving to Palas, I’ve established myself with two different primary Drs, and the relevant specialists. I’ve gone to the HULA (Hospital Universitario Lucas Augusti) to get the vaccine, and for multiple tests. But, until now, I have never been admitted overnight to this facility.

Hotels are full all around Spain for August holidays. So my body must have figured that the only way to get a free night stay away from home was to get myself admitted to the HULA.

The upside of this is that I learned even more about how public health in Galicia operates. And I must say, I am very pleased with the results.

For most of our 3 1/2 years residing in Spain, we have been on private health care. It is supposed to be better than public. We have been told this by many, many people. And our experience with private health care in Spain was so superior to the US we believed it must be true. But yesterday and today changed that for me.

I was up early yesterday morning, not feeling my best. Jeff slept soundly next me, so I thought I would quietly get dressed and drive myself to our local Centro Medico Urgencia. It was probably nothing. Maybe an asthma issue that had kept me up most of the night coughing and struggling to breathe. But Jeff woke up as I was tiptoeing around, getting my clothes from the bedroom. So he hopped up and drove me.

Note: I do not have Covid again, and I know this after another brain tickling PCR test. So no worries there. And I felt guilty for going to the Urgencia at all. Putting additional stress on the health system, and it’s tireless heroes, is something to be avoided at all cost right now.

But they took me right in and quickly decided I needed to go the the HULA in Lugo, in an ambulance. Not what I expected. But the amazing part is that the Dra and the nurse grabbed all the gear and came along with the paramedics to monitor me throughout the 35+ mile ride. One of them held my hand. The other stroked my head, assuring me that it would be OK. They were all over everything, the entire way.

This never happened on private insurance in Valencia. Nor would this ever occur in the US insurance care system (my pet name for it). Not in a million years. I’d be lucky if they paid some small portion of the ambulance bill. This, after they disputed the charge for months on end.

Both the Palas Dra and nurse escorted me out of the ambulance and into the emergency suite at the HULA, performing the turn over with a team of 8 professionals waiting to receive me. They each had a job to do, and they did it.

Another interesting difference of note. In the US, a doctor is called something like Dr Johnson. Or Dr Jones. There is a hierarchy in the Dr/patient relationship, and the doctor is at the top. It was that way in Valencia, as well. Here in Lugo, doctors introduce themselves by their first names. When I asked what their names were, it was ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Raoul’. No titles. My nurse here is Mabel. Just one human to another. I like that.

I spent last night in this hospital. A hive of efficiency and caring. And do you want to know the best part? Nearly every person speaks ingles. I tried out my sad español, but they all told me ‘Don’t worry, Kelli. We speak English’. This was a rarity in Valencian medical care. Even at the swankiest of private hospitals.

Now that we have full confidence in the Sergas public health system in Galicia, soup to nuts, Jeff and I both agree that we will cancel our private health insurance when the annual renewal is up in December. No one was more surprised to hear him agree to this. He’s very picky with heath care. Yet, suddenly public heath is just fine with him. But to be fair, Jeff had dubbed me a Spanish healthcare connoisseur, after my activities over the past year.

In our local news, there are articles, almost daily, about all the research & development being done for medical break through procedures at the HULA. Robotic surgery is a norm at this hospital. And I know their cardiac unit is world class. Because I’ve read up on it. But the care in the ER and on the wards is top notch, too. And I have no further doubts that, as we age, we are in the best of hands.

10 thoughts on “In Good Hands

  • I find it interesting that I get so emotional about reading this. And as much as I love you as a human being can love another person with never having met them, I love reading once again that Spain has this world class health care. And I love that Spaniards have access to this care. It’s kind of odd that I was so shocked when I had first learned this a few years ago. But I have never read anything different. And your care and treatment continue to awe me. And your dual decision to drop private health care? Wowza. That is telling. Go Spain!!!

    So my question to you: are you or Jeff aware of skeet-shooting ranges anywhere in Galicia? That is why I chose France because I knew my hubby would be happy. I know there are skeet ranges (shooting those flat clay disks) some places along the coast but the coast is too hot for us. We need green and some rain. And I was unable to find skeet ranges anywhere else in Spain but hot areas.

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    • I totally understand. I feel like I know and care about the ppl who read this blog and talk to me often in comments. You, in particular, have been there through the highs and lows of this long stretch of navigating the world during the pandemic. When my health has taken a turn for the worse. Encouraging and supporting us when things got tough. And celebrating our victories. As if we are old friends. Hopefully we will meet up someday, in person. 😘

      For the health system in Spain. Each autonomous community here manages their care delivery. But I will say that I find Gallegos, in general, to be more connected to each other than we felt in Valencia. Perhaps its the rural thing, I don’t know. But even in the ER in Lugo it felt different. Jeff noticed it. Lots of physical contact. The Dr or nurse would hold your hand, rub a foot, stroke your forehead. Every one of them did it, so it seems like a normal cultural thing. You could relax. They could see me as a person. Not an insurance card number to be billed.

      As to skeet shooting. I don’t really know, but I will find out. Perhaps Marie Carmen will know. I do know that people hunt here and in Asturias. We never heard about hunting in Valencia. I read articles about shot gun licensing in the local news. I’ll get back to you. It’s something I have always wanted to try.

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  • Hi sorry to hear you needed the service but so happy that the experience was a good one. I’ve grown up with community medicine all my life and have to say that, as a person who loves the US in many ways, I fear a health service that works based on ability to pay rather than need. I’ve always been happy to pay my share and delighted that my friends and family have the treatment they need. I’ve been signed up with the national system in Spain about four years ago now and have no regrets. I hope you are ok Kelli. Take good care. Donna xxx

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    • I’m with you, Donna. I wish my friends and family could experience it. In the US, were always told ‘socialized medicine’ like Canada has was a debacle. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just received another asthma treatment. Feeling much better already. No worries. 👍

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  • Having never had private healthcare, we’ve been happy with our care both in the UK and here in Valencia. Gary’s care after his stroke was excellent, although a couple of the nurses were less than helpful. We got it sorted through. I hope you’re okay.

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