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.