Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chaing Mai Ram Hospital


We know how to say very few words in Thai. A disproportionate number of these are variations of "don't feed this girl wheat," and the most obscure so far is what the Thai people pronounce as, "Ma-ba". Ladies and gents, it's time to get real about rabies. We joked endlessly about "rabies in Bali" after a visit we made to a travel clinic back in Boston. At this clinic, a woman with a bad perm and atrocious customer service warned us extensively about the shortage of the rabies vaccine on the Indonesian island. We decided to scratch playing with forest monkeys off our itinerary and skip the vaccines. No worries.

Fast forward to our second day in Thailand: we're positioning ourselves around the prayer benches preparing for a group photo and I suddenly feel a sharp pain on the front of my shin. I look down to see blood (*t), and the little white cat who frequents the school at lunch time. He had gotten spooked amidst he crowd and sunk his chompers into the closest leg he could find.


After some debate and catastrophic brainstorming, we began researching hospitals and settled on a pricier private option, Chiang Mai Ram. Countless reviews recommended this hospital for foreigners, citing more staff members speaking English, as well as English speaking escorts. Despite the fact that the latter was not provided for us, we were able to communicate our needs easily with intake. Chiang Mai Ram was faster than any ER visit I've ever had in the US. We learned that our visit was in fact necessary, and that the protocol for a bite in this country (where its difficult to trace animals to their owners) is a tetanus shot, antibiotics, and a series of 5 post-exposure rabies shots. The doctor we saw, whose name is fittingly, 'Kittipun',  also suggested that Hillary get the vaccine proactively in the event she should need it while in Bali, rather than have to cut our trip short.


A key difference that travelers should be aware of is the hospital cashier, who provides you with a ticket number as if you're waiting to be called next at the deli. They will only accept payment in full on the day of service. In the event you are in the ER for a true emergency and don't have time to grab your wallet, they will probably offer to drive you to your hotel so that you can get your baht or your MasterCard and then drive you back to the hospital to pay them. We left for the hospital in a flurry and didn't realize how much baht we had on us, and lo and behold, it wasn't enough. We were fortunate enough to be rescued from this circumstance by a new friend, Michael of Singapore, who paid our bill for us in exchange for a Starbucks and dinner rendezvous the following day. He gave us great information about the nightlife in Thailand and was such a gentleman to us during our night out. We have run into him around Central (Airport Plaza) where we go for pad thai and grilled bananas on the reg. Overall, the approximate cost for the services, which included the shots and hospital fees, was around $70. We use World Nomads for our traveler's health insurance, and will update you on the claims/reimbursement process.

We'd also like to note that they don't exactly give scripts for medications that you take elsewhere to be filled. At Chiang Mai Ram, you just stop at the pharmacy counter after paying the cashier and pick up your meds right then and there. We didn't realize this and it wasn't clearly communicated, so we ended up having to make a trip back for the penicillin.

Overall, our experience at Chiang Mai Ram Hospital was a good one. They spoke enough English that we found it easy to communicate (relative to the rest of Chiang Mai), and the doctor at least was fluent. While this facility is on the pricier side for Thailand, we'd recommend it as a clean, safe, fast, and functional place for foreigners needing medical care.

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