Friday, August 14, 2009

My French Hospital Experience

I feel like I've been keeping extremely busy lately. I've just gotten back to the US after spending two weeks in France. My France trip was great although I did get to see a portion of France that one generally does their best to avoid while vacationing, the hospitals. I think the reason I ended up in the hospital are best summed up by the words of Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. "I fell down some stairs." In the end, I blame the Doc Marten's that I was walking down the stairs to retrieve. I hurt one of my toes and thought it may have been broken. Knowing that a hospital can't really do anything for a hurt toe, I simply asked my host family for some ice and maybe something to tape it up. They however insisted that we go to the hospital. After telling them it was really not necessary, I finally gave in a went to grab my wallet and coat. Sadly, I forgot my camera. French hospitals are quite different from hospitals in America.

According to my host mother, this hospital was a quite old and a new one was being built to replace it, even so, it was still rather surprising to me being used to the hospitals in America that are so shiny and clean that you could probably eat off the floor. The first thing that caught my attention was the lack of any sort of parking lot. We parked around the block and walked to a closed gate where we had to page the nurse. The gate was already opened a bit so we came in and the nurse met us at the door. I'm not sure if this is typical of the daytime shifts as well or just the night shift. She escorted us to a room where she asked me for my information. Rather than attempting to explain my life story in French I just handed her my driver's license. She filled out her bit of paperwork and then said the doctor would be in momentarily. Being used to the American system I expected to see the doctor at some point in the next hour...not the next two minutes. I was pleasantly shocked when the doctor really did show up in just a moment.

Unlike the nurse, the doctor wasn't the friendliest of people... I suppose this is typical of American doctors as well. He decided I needed to have x rays. The nurse then escorted me to the room with the x ray machine where there were some chairs to wait in. I started to sit down and before I landed in the chair the x ray technician had already come out to get me. The strangest part about this whole trip was not that that I was not told to use a wheelchair, they let me walk to have my x rays taken, but that the x ray room had thin walls. Here, I believe they need a certain ridiculous amount of steel in the walls, floors, and ceilings of the rooms where the machines are. I was also not given one of those lead aprons to wear. No complaints there ...I don't want kids anyway ...But it was still an odd moment for me when he just turned around to snap the photos. He didn't even have to leave the vicinity of the x ray like they do here. A few moments later he handed me the x rays and sent me back to my room and within seconds the doctor came back too.

The doctor took a few glances at the x ray and told me that my "finger" was not broken in English which was cute considering it was my toe we were there for. He left and sent the nurse in to wrap it up and then sent us on our way without any sort of charge. I must say that I agree with the French medical system. It would be nice if we jumped on that bandwagon pretty quick. From what I understand, government run health care is not as nice in places like England and Canada but if our system would take a few tips from the French I think it would be a huge step up from our current health care predicament. It was nice to walk into a hospital for the first time ever and not have to think about how I (or my parents) will be able to pay for this when its all done and over. Once again, I look forward to the day America can do the same for its people.

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