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 Emergency hospital experience

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oldun
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PostSubject: Emergency hospital experience   Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:30 pm

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Hi everyone - I hope none of you will ever have this experience but in case you do this might help. I know there is a topic about Bulgarian Health Service but in an emergency its not the time to go searching for info. Be prepared! This is our experience in the new (!) hospital in Veliko Turnovo. The one opposite the Praktiker complex and Billa.
When the emergency happened I ran to our neighbours who called the ambulance (112) which came in 20 mins to our village 25kms away. This was very lucky as it can take longer.
Tom was stretchered out of our house into the ambulance which had to negotiate our muddy track.
The paramedics transferred him to a proper stretcher - bed and proceeded to try to get a drip into his arm. Very difficult as they couldn't find a vein due to blood loss.
Eventually I was ushered into the front with the driver, leaving Tom in the paramedics hands. The ambulance was basic and cold but at least he was having some treatment. The paramedics asked the driver to slow down and got a lot of verbal abuse in reply. I think it was 'do you want me to get to hospital quick or not???' The potholes didn't help of course.
At the hospital Tom was ushered onto a trolley and taken immediately to a reception room where people were constantly going in and out. Some doctors and nurses and some bewildered folk looking for the right door!
I watched as his vital signs were done and a man appeared who spoke some English but wasn't really much help because he was more interested in telling me about his experience on a British oil rig!
I had to leave with his documents ( passport, LTR card, EHIC card) and found my way to an office by the door we'd come in by. This took some time and again all was spoken in Bulgarian naturally. Thank goodness we both understand and can make ourselves understood basically. Not sure what would happen otherwise. Our man had disappeared by now.
I went back to Tom and we were then moved to an ante room awaiting a bed. It didn't take long (unlike NHS) and he was soon in bed and hooked up to a drip in a room with 5 other beds and patients in them.
At this point I should warn you that although the speed of being entered into a ward and put on a drip was wonderful ( he was in safe hands) I can assure you that the state of the hospital left much to be desired. The corridors, offices, wards and everything periferal were shabby and dirty. The bed was old, the sheets and regulation 2 blankets, small and not looking sterile by a long way. The nursing is done by family and/or friends although for 3 days Tom didn't get any food. I thought it was because he wasn't allowed but it seems that on Sundays and holidays nothing is prepared anyway.
I couldn't visit on the Sunday after New Year's Eve, no buses or taxis, so I was really worried. By this time Tom could joke that if he didn't die of his complaint he would die of starvation!
On Monday still no buses but my taxi driver, who had his father in law in the next bed to Tom ( how about that for coincidence?), came to fetch me even though he wasn't working.
When the doctor finally spoke to me and told me a bit about what was wrong he informed me I had to find 2 blood donors! What? Why and how would I do this? Taxi back to the village during which time I managed to explain (again in Bulgarian) about my problem. He told me not to worry and said his wife and brother in law would give blood. Apparently this is quite normal in Bulgaria and people are paid for blood and given a carton of orange juice and box of chocolates!!! I know this because when I had to find 3 more donors (how much blood did Tom lose??) our village lads came out of the blood office with their gifts. I noticed that their IDs were asked for too.
By now both Tom and I were in a routine and after my worry on the Sunday about Tom starving to death, he told me that he had been given some basic food. Not exactly the diet he should be on but it was a kind of soup and he mashed his own potato. I can see the funny side now.
Tom was giving me instructions about his needs like lots of change for the TV. Yes, there was a TV positioned on a wall so everyone could more or less see it. It took levs, 50s, 20s for varying lengths of time. 3 levs for a whole day.
Nurses came in at various times giving him pills and changing the bags of plasma and blood. Doctor visited every day. The days starting at about 6.30am.
Tom was beside himself when the doctor said he would be in there at least 10days but he had to do as he was told and when he tried to get up he realised he could hardly walk he was so weak.
Finally when the doctor said he could go home, he was told to see the village doctor to register and give him the print out of everything that had been done, and buy the prescription of several boxes of pills.
I should mention now that although the bedding was only changed once while he was there, I can't fault the medical care he received and the proof is that Tom is now recovered and doing well. However, although the nurses were efficient they aren't very smiley and the whole experience is definitely no frills!
Fortunately Tom is very low maintenance and was just interested in getting well enough to get back to wood chopping! I would warn anyone to expect little in the way of hygiene and be prepared to pop out to buy your own bowl (for sickness)towels and washing kit etc. and be ready to empty the bedpan in a very dilapedated loo. Shut your eyes and hold your nose. No-one really is overly helpful to anyone except the patient so be prepared to wander around finding where things are and seeing patients in varying states of dress or undress sitting in corridors on benches with visitors. When recovering this is allowed and there are coffee machines but no actual cafe type room. Tom is only allowed tea but the machines only have one tea which is lemon (not strictly allowed!)
I could go on but I think by now you will have got the picture. I am just so grateful that I now know hospital routine and that diagnosis is quick and reliable. Tom had X-rays, a scan and an endoscopy routinely with immediate results. The payments I had to make was 120levs for blood and 48levs for administration and photo-copies. We expected to pay more but it seems its covered by the EHIC. We were told that if a patient needs a nurse because of inability by family it costs 2 levs an hour but we didn't need this and I have no idea how this would work anyway. The call button on the wall didn't look operational to me!
All this might sound a bit gruesome but in an emergency all you need is fast medical care and that is what we got. Thank you VT hospital and doctor. Now its up to our village doctor who visits once a week for after care.
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oldun
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:00 pm

I don't wish to argue about this subject because I only know what happened in our case. I emphasize that we did not pay the donors - we paid the hospital in an office together with the administration hospital fees.
I stayed with our donors in the blood office, which is in the hospital complex down a very dingy corridor or can be entered from a door to the side of the hospital.
I have no problem with people being paid for their blood. It is not pleasant to see your blood being taken or a needle being inserted in your arm.
Before the nurses did anything, they asked for the guys ID and checked their blood was suitable.
I think what Varnagirl said about the blood being kept for future for Tom could be correct or else it was replacing the blood he already had been given.
I believe the hospital would pay the donors although I didn't see any sign of money just the box of chocolates and carton of juice.
I have no problem with any of this.
However, it could be true that there is a problem of blackmarketing because the locals were joking about 'gypsy blood' as I posted earlier.
If this occurs it might be a private company that is involved or, in the case of the newspaper report (not always reliable) it was in another hospital. I can only report what happened in our case in the new hospital in VT and I will be forever grateful to all involved in getting Tom better. He was treated exactly the same as the other men in the ward so there was no favouritism because he was British and we paid nothing extra to the doctor.
Some people may have worse experiences and some better but I hope this helps some who may have concerns about what to expect. It has helped me to write it all down now the worst is over. Thank you all for reading and supporting. T
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tonyb60
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:17 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
I don't wish to argue about this subject because I only know what happened in our case. I emphasize that we did not pay the donors - we paid the hospital in an office together with the administration hospital fees.
I stayed with our donors in the blood office, which is in the hospital complex down a very dingy corridor or can be entered from a door to the side of the hospital.
I have no problem with people being paid for their blood. It is not pleasant to see your blood being taken or a needle being inserted in your arm.
Before the nurses did anything, they asked for the guys ID and checked their blood was suitable.
I think what Varnagirl said about the blood being kept for future for Tom could be correct or else it was replacing the blood he already had been given.
I believe the hospital would pay the donors although I didn't see any sign of money just the box of chocolates and carton of juice.
I have no problem with any of this.
However, it could be true that there is a problem of blackmarketing because the locals were joking about 'gypsy blood' as I posted earlier.
If this occurs it might be a private company that is involved or, in the case of the newspaper report (not always reliable) it was in another hospital. I can only report what happened in our case in the new hospital in VT and I will be forever grateful to all involved in getting Tom better. He was treated exactly the same as the other men in the ward so there was no favouritism because he was British and we paid nothing extra to the doctor.
Some people may have worse experiences and some better but I hope this helps some who may have concerns about what to expect. It has helped me to write it all down now the worst is over. Thank you all for reading and supporting. T

When a friend of ours had to have blood in the old Yambol hospital (but she was in a refurbished block). Her husband and I collected people from our village to give blood. There was no sign of payment that I could see and yes oldun like in your case they checked ID'S etc.

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bigsavak
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Sat Jan 21, 2012 2:05 pm

Fantastic story it just goes to show you that not all the hospitals in Bulgaria can be tared with the same brush I think you had a brilliant service that you may not have got anywhere else including the time it took. I'm sure there is some payments being made in some places but I don't think this will stop here in Bg for some time and you experience shows that its not all bad.
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Esta
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Sun Jan 22, 2012 9:57 am

Glad to hear the recovery is going well. Luckily I have never had to use A&
E here - but I have your experience to fall back onto should I need to. We have a first aid station with ambulance 11kms from us, they seem to come out for pretty much everything - last summer a villager and his donkey (which eventually died) got stung by a swarm of bees - the ambulance came to our village for that. One guy cut his hand whilst using an angle grinder they came to the village to bandage him up. I guess it must have hurt a lot but I don't think an ambulance would have come out for it in the UK!!!

We had to take our son to the out of hours doctor at the hospital in Yambol one evening. Yes, the "
waiting"
corridor, once we manged to find it, was quite sad looking. There was one other person waiting, as my son was crying with discomfort (severe earache, temperature and headache) they let us go in first. My son speaks great Bulgarian and understood everything the doc told him to do - I asked the doc just to repeat everything to me, so understood about the lengthy prescription he was issuing. I think we were there, including waiting time, for 15 minutes (half of that was the doc writing out the prescription!!! [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] ). The surgery room itself was very clean. Went to the all night chemist, where again, they gave great guidance with his medication. The village doctor was in our village the following day (whom I had called, the previous evening, before setting off to Yambol, to ask where I should go) sent someone round to my house to ask us to go and see her so she could check his prescription and give him another once over!
I felt really happy - no-one made me feel like I was being over fussing in my concern as to how poorly he really was, which I had been made to feel back in the UK, when I took him to the surgery on one occassion.

I am pleased to hear that the system works, even with no frills!!!! English hospital food is also dire - I was bought sandwiches, cup a soups, flasks of decent tea and fruit when I had my son!! I was in a UK hospital (admitted Christmas day) and there I also had to wait ages - I was sent home Christmas day night and told to return the following day when a specialist could come in.
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oldun
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:17 am

Great reply Esta and very reassuring. I also found the pharmacy I used very helpful and made sure I understood the dosages which were fairly complicated. I agree for ordinary hospital visits the corridors are sad places but it actually seems fairer than having some receptionist decide when you can have an appointment. If you get up early you will be near the front of the queue which seems to start about 7am.
The only time I was admitted to hospital in UK when I had a broken ankle deemed an emergency, I was eventually sent back home after a couple of hours on a corridor trolley and told to return to outpatients in 3 days when I had another 4 hour wait. No probs with the eventual surgery but all that waiting was extremely worrying after being classed as an emergency.
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sallyann
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Sun Jan 22, 2012 2:26 pm

I wish I could add to all these positive experiences but I can't because I haven't need the hospital or doctor yet but it does gladden my heart to hear such positive experiences such at these and gives me great confidence in knowing that if I did need these services then I have nothing really to worry about. T
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oldun
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:18 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] Well I might not go that far Sallyann but at least things might not be such a shock because much is so different to UK. Knowing something of what to expect is half-way to not worrying quite so much. Hopefully none of you will have such an emergency, but should the worst happen I am pleased that my story might have helped in some way.
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Brian1
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Sat Mar 17, 2012 5:51 pm

I have had to read this twice just be sure I got it right, I have to say oldun you are a real inspiration to all of us and sharing your experience the way you have here is extremely helpful to those who fear the worst but having read it |I can say I would be happy to go into hospital for a Short period in Bulgaria even if I have to take a packed lunch.
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