Over the weekend, we had the opportunity to observe firsthand how “the No.1 Hospital in India in the private sector” functions. A few observations.
1. We had medical insurance, supposedly cashless. The man at admissions told us, very rudely, that we had to pay a “security deposit” of Rs. 20,000 if we wanted our friend to be admitted. Any issues or reservations we had, we could take up with our insurer, we were told, very brusquely.
2. The so-called “Emergency Room” was merely a holding area for patients until rooms could be found for them. We waited five hours for our room to be allotted. It turned out that we were waiting because the man in admissions had not informed the ER that our room had been allotted – they refused to tell us how long ago.
3. The ER was manned by two doctors – one lady who was constantly on the phone and one gentleman who was very inept. Thankfully, the support staff seemed to be well clued-in. At least that is what we thought, till we found out that the agonising pain in my friend’s arm was not because of his illness, but because the ER staff had used a needle much bigger than the one the doctor had told them to use. We found this out only after about 24 hours, and all the while my poor friend was in agony every time they tried to give him dextrose by drip.
4. The ER and the approach to it were dingy and crowded. There was the constant buzzing of flies to keep us company.
5. When finally we were allotted a room, it turned out to be a run-down hotel room converted into a hospital room. The toilet didn’t smell too good either.
The image we have of Apollo Hospitals is that of a world-class healthcare centre where people flock to from everywhere. We believe it to be staffed by the best doctors and support staff. We believe that they will have the best infrastructure ever. We believe that they are thorough professionals. We believe that even if we pay a bit more than other places, we will be getting the best healthcare money can buy.
One trip to the hospital has changed all that. We realise that the image we have is a careful construct, made up by the hospital’s marketers in connivance with a pliable media.