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***WARNING- NOT TYPOGRAPHICALLY RELEVANT***
I recently had the misfortune of having to go to Los Angeles County General Hospital. For those of you who don't know, General Hospital is a huge understaffed facility catering to low income or poor individuals. Urgent Care (a faster emergency service) nor any of the clinics I usually use were not an option. Having had literally been beaten up side my head I already knew I needed a Cat Scan of my head. Not equipment found in a clinic.
I got there at 3:30pm and registered. 20mins later a nurse calls me into an examining clinic (there is a cursory examination to see how sick you really are- if you can wait, you wait, if your case is more serious, you're whisked off to the Intensive Care Unit). My situation was not critical. I get checked out by the nurse and she tells me I need to be seen by the doctor.
But before I see the doctor I have to speak to the insurance lady. I get called for her at around 5:00pm. I give her my insurance card. I'm covered. Mind you there are 12 windows but there are only 4 or 5 insurance people on hand behind those windows.
Then I wait. And I wait. For all the contempt I here regarding County Hospital being over-flowing with people, the amount of people actually looks like any other emergency room I've been to.
I get seen by a doctor at 11:30pm. My total chat with the doctor lasted at the most 4 mins. I was sent to another floor to get the CT scan I needed. I waited for that service for about 1½ hours.
During the wait I began to chat with a nurse about the hospital wait. He told me that actually I was fortunate because tonight was a "slow" night. And not too many people were in the the ICU today. He told me something interesting tho: at night they cut the amount of doctors even further down. And I think on the weekends they close one of the emergency rooms down. There are three. I'm thinking in my head: "LA's population is going up, not down". He said they have decent funding now (referring to story that broke many years ago of how they actually considering closing the hospital). I asked him why cutbacks in the evening or weekends? He said the doctors are too expensive so they have cutbacks. Interestingly he told me the board of directors get bonuses every year but nurses and doctors get raises every once and a blue moon- after they picket of course.
The scan was no more than 2½ mins. Then back to the waiting room on the ground floor. I waited till 3:00am for the doctor to tell me everything was okay even though I felt pretty lousy. I was glad anyway. I was released.
I've had Kaiser and Blue Cross (types of decent medical insurance) and I've had emergency service in their respective private hospitals and disturbingly a 7 to 12 hour wait is about right. So I don't feel too bad after having been to County.
What's it like in Canada, England, Germany, Netherlands etc? Do you guys have to go though a bunch of hoops to the get care you need. Does it take forever like here in the States?
Mike Diaz :-)