All Around the Health Care Bush–the monkey chased the weasel

regional

Regional Hospital in Uriangato.

I’m the monkey that’s doing the chasing of course. If you don’t remember, I have hypothyroidism which requires a blood test and doctor appointment every 6 months. Sounds relatively simple, but there’s a catch. We have Seguro Popular, (Mexican Health Care Insurance) and as such, must go to the Regional Hospital in Uriangato to have any and all procedures and doctor appointments.

It sounds like it would be a better deal right? After all, you’d expect the hospital staff to have better credentials than any Dr. Jose off the street (No offence meant to those Joses who are doctors). However, I’ve found it to be quite a frustrating experience overall (See Mexico’s Seguro Popular–A model of inefficiency). This time around was no exception.Apparently, there are now only 5 doctors during the week to attend to patients (Hay déficit de médicos en el Hospital Regional) which would explain the long lines and slow service to some extent.

Since my appointment 6 months ago, the rigamarole has been changed. In order to make an appointment to have a blood draw, you must arrive sometime after 6 am to wait for a ficha (number). The sign says that they only give out 30 fichas, but that isn’t true. The first attempt landed me number 43. The second attempt (I arrived a bit earlier) I received number 32. The first attempt was a failure. I was still waiting at 11 am–couldn’t wait any longer, and left the hospital without a blood draw appointment. The second attempt happened to be the day of the monthly teacher meeting (See Mexican Educational Reform and Political Wrangling) so I was determined to wait it out. I really didn’t mind that I’d miss the meeting.

When I arrived in the hospital waiting room, I gave out the customary holler–Quien es el ultimo para sacar citas para el laboratorio? (Who is the last to arrive to make an appointment with the lab?) I took note of the woman who claimed to be the last and her brown rebozo and sat near her. Others arrived asking who was the last for the laboratorio (for the actual blood draw or specimen deposit), who was the last for x-rays (the line was short for that) and for picking up resultados (lab results pickup). So there were several lines we all were trying to keep track of.

The blood draw and specimen deposit line formed at 7 am. A bit of pushing and shoving ensued, however as these people already had their appointment, it wasn’t too desperate. Once the 50 odd people were taken care of, the line for the appointments formed. The second line forming was more desperate since everyone knew there was a limited number of numbers available. I had to shoulder my way into the line and ended up pressed up against the back of the woman with the brown rebozo until the line advanced.

When we reached the window, each person received a laminated number. Real high tech here. Then we sat down again. The lady at the window called the numbers and set up the appointments. This process was slowed down as she attended those who had come to pick up lab results. It was now 9 am. Lab result pick-ups are from 9-10. You don’t need a number for this–you just head to the window and butt in line in front of those with numbers waiting to make their appointments. It’s a nice change to the routine when it comes time to pick up results, but while you are waiting for the appointment, it’s a bit frustrating.

So it wasn’t my turn until a bit after 11 am. As my appointment with the doctor was less than a month away and my blood work results take 2 weeks to come back from the lab in Leon, my blood draw was scheduled for Monday. Halleluiah!

Since my lab appointment was the next working day (no blood draws on Saturday or Sunday) I headed to the caja (payments office) for their approval. Last time around I was given a yellow receipt that verified that I this procedure was covered through Seguro Popular. This process has been streamlined with a rubber stamp instead of the yellow receipt. A bit of paper-saving here that shows an improved concern for the environment possibly?

Once I received the official stamp of approval, I was free to go for the day. It was now nearly noon, and I wasn’t in a hurry to head to the teacher meeting, so I set about my second health quest of the day–new glasses. (See I can see!–Getting glasses in Mexico)

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