Sunday, January 14

A day at the hospital

Our daughter had to go to the "Fracture Clinic" at one of the major hospitals, so as she cannot drive, I went with her. We arrived a little early, but that was OK, and she was called in to have her x-ray 10 minutes after appointment time. There was some confusion there as it was recorded that she had an injury to her elbow AND SHOULDER, that required x-ray. As the shoulder had no injury or pain, it was curious, and perhaps unnecessary. She was told that there had been several significant errors that day! It was a much longer wait before she saw the doctor.

I went in with her - thankfully, as I would have gone spare sitting in the waiting room for nearly 2 hours wondering what was going on, and she would have been fearful on her own. A doctor, possibly Chinese with poor English introduced herself to Janet. (Janet was handed a form later which set out to determine her needs and it asked if she needed an interpreter - she was tempted to add that she needed one to understand what the doctor was saying.) She started talking about the x-ray that was taken on the previous Wednesday - and was surprised to learn from our daughter that she had just had another x-ray. She disappeared.

At one stage she was looking at an x-ray, we could see clearly from our "vantage" point. J asked if it could be her elbow. I asked how many pictures were taken of her elbow, which she replied only one. There were many views of the particular elbow on the light screen, so we deduced correctly that it was someone else's x-ray.

We were close by the "working" area of the staff and curiously watched as at times some 7 staff (doctors, nurses, wardsman) stood doing nothing. Could there be better use of their time? We heard the Chinese doctor discussing J's situation with a senior doctor, and heard every word. The Chinese doctor's interpretation was quite different to what we had heard! When J asked a question the doctor looked blank, looked upwards, said nothing and disappeared!

She at one time held her arm out, as if in Nazi salute saying that J would have a splint to hold her arm in this fashion. We looked at each other and laughed. It seemed surreal. There was little communication of value, there was no explanation about the arm splint, and we sat there watching the parade of staff, few patients and much waste of time. Staff would appear and refer to J not by name, but as "the elbow."

At 3.30 pm I suggested that staff might be finishing at 4 pm and we'd be left "high and dry" if nothing was happening soon. J asked, and sure enough, they were winding down and yes, would be off duty at 4 pm. They talked about "Lawrence" who was to apply the splint to J's arm, and then referred to a girl who was busy in Intensive Care and would be available soon. I asked if it was "Florence" or "Lawrence" - humour that didn't work except for us.

There was more confusion and at a quarter to 4, gave her some paperwork, and instructions to go to the Rehab building for the splint. I might add that the English speaking senior doctor had shortly before come and explained things to J, in a manner that we had overheard earlier. It was helpful to get her questions answered, and we were given inustrctuions to get t Rehab.

Fortunately we found a staff member carrying a big body caste, and it appears she was from
Rehab so escorted us to "Florence" or "Lawrence". Actually it was Sue who appeared, and applied the splint. When we mentioned the name confusion she laughed. "Lawrence" was the admin officer, and in no way would have applied the needed splint.

It gives one great confidence in the health system here. We left at 4.30, paid the exorbitant fee for parking and went home. Oh, for a stiff drink!


We heard our Chinese/poor English doctor discuss the

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