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 Emergency hospital experience

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oldun
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PostSubject: Emergency hospital experience   Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:30 pm

Hi everyone - I hope none of you will ever have this experience but in case you do this might help. I know there is a topic about Bulgarian Health Service but in an emergency its not the time to go searching for info. Be prepared! This is our experience in the new (!) hospital in Veliko Turnovo. The one opposite the Praktiker complex and Billa.
When the emergency happened I ran to our neighbours who called the ambulance (112) which came in 20 mins to our village 25kms away. This was very lucky as it can take longer.
Tom was stretchered out of our house into the ambulance which had to negotiate our muddy track.
The paramedics transferred him to a proper stretcher - bed and proceeded to try to get a drip into his arm. Very difficult as they couldn't find a vein due to blood loss.
Eventually I was ushered into the front with the driver, leaving Tom in the paramedics hands. The ambulance was basic and cold but at least he was having some treatment. The paramedics asked the driver to slow down and got a lot of verbal abuse in reply. I think it was 'do you want me to get to hospital quick or not???' The potholes didn't help of course.
At the hospital Tom was ushered onto a trolley and taken immediately to a reception room where people were constantly going in and out. Some doctors and nurses and some bewildered folk looking for the right door!
I watched as his vital signs were done and a man appeared who spoke some English but wasn't really much help because he was more interested in telling me about his experience on a British oil rig!
I had to leave with his documents ( passport, LTR card, EHIC card) and found my way to an office by the door we'd come in by. This took some time and again all was spoken in Bulgarian naturally. Thank goodness we both understand and can make ourselves understood basically. Not sure what would happen otherwise. Our man had disappeared by now.
I went back to Tom and we were then moved to an ante room awaiting a bed. It didn't take long (unlike NHS) and he was soon in bed and hooked up to a drip in a room with 5 other beds and patients in them.
At this point I should warn you that although the speed of being entered into a ward and put on a drip was wonderful ( he was in safe hands) I can assure you that the state of the hospital left much to be desired. The corridors, offices, wards and everything periferal were shabby and dirty. The bed was old, the sheets and regulation 2 blankets, small and not looking sterile by a long way. The nursing is done by family and/or friends although for 3 days Tom didn't get any food. I thought it was because he wasn't allowed but it seems that on Sundays and holidays nothing is prepared anyway.
I couldn't visit on the Sunday after New Year's Eve, no buses or taxis, so I was really worried. By this time Tom could joke that if he didn't die of his complaint he would die of starvation!
On Monday still no buses but my taxi driver, who had his father in law in the next bed to Tom ( how about that for coincidence?), came to fetch me even though he wasn't working.
When the doctor finally spoke to me and told me a bit about what was wrong he informed me I had to find 2 blood donors! What? Why and how would I do this? Taxi back to the village during which time I managed to explain (again in Bulgarian) about my problem. He told me not to worry and said his wife and brother in law would give blood. Apparently this is quite normal in Bulgaria and people are paid for blood and given a carton of orange juice and box of chocolates!!! I know this because when I had to find 3 more donors (how much blood did Tom lose??) our village lads came out of the blood office with their gifts. I noticed that their IDs were asked for too.
By now both Tom and I were in a routine and after my worry on the Sunday about Tom starving to death, he told me that he had been given some basic food. Not exactly the diet he should be on but it was a kind of soup and he mashed his own potato. I can see the funny side now.
Tom was giving me instructions about his needs like lots of change for the TV. Yes, there was a TV positioned on a wall so everyone could more or less see it. It took levs, 50s, 20s for varying lengths of time. 3 levs for a whole day.
Nurses came in at various times giving him pills and changing the bags of plasma and blood. Doctor visited every day. The days starting at about 6.30am.
Tom was beside himself when the doctor said he would be in there at least 10days but he had to do as he was told and when he tried to get up he realised he could hardly walk he was so weak.
Finally when the doctor said he could go home, he was told to see the village doctor to register and give him the print out of everything that had been done, and buy the prescription of several boxes of pills.
I should mention now that although the bedding was only changed once while he was there, I can't fault the medical care he received and the proof is that Tom is now recovered and doing well. However, although the nurses were efficient they aren't very smiley and the whole experience is definitely no frills!
Fortunately Tom is very low maintenance and was just interested in getting well enough to get back to wood chopping! I would warn anyone to expect little in the way of hygiene and be prepared to pop out to buy your own bowl (for sickness)towels and washing kit etc. and be ready to empty the bedpan in a very dilapedated loo. Shut your eyes and hold your nose. No-one really is overly helpful to anyone except the patient so be prepared to wander around finding where things are and seeing patients in varying states of dress or undress sitting in corridors on benches with visitors. When recovering this is allowed and there are coffee machines but no actual cafe type room. Tom is only allowed tea but the machines only have one tea which is lemon (not strictly allowed!)
I could go on but I think by now you will have got the picture. I am just so grateful that I now know hospital routine and that diagnosis is quick and reliable. Tom had X-rays, a scan and an endoscopy routinely with immediate results. The payments I had to make was 120levs for blood and 48levs for administration and photo-copies. We expected to pay more but it seems its covered by the EHIC. We were told that if a patient needs a nurse because of inability by family it costs 2 levs an hour but we didn't need this and I have no idea how this would work anyway. The call button on the wall didn't look operational to me!
All this might sound a bit gruesome but in an emergency all you need is fast medical care and that is what we got. Thank you VT hospital and doctor. Now its up to our village doctor who visits once a week for after care.
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cheekychops
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:34 pm

This is an amazing insight to exactly what we can expect in a similar situation and I do believe your right! we don't need all the frills of a top quality hospital lets face there are some state of the art hospitals in old blighty and they don't live up to this kind of care. Hope Tom recovers quickly and is back to hi normal self soon. Thank you for sharing this with us.
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tonyb60
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:44 pm

Well it sounds like Tom got good treatment, albeit that the surroundings were not too pleasant.

We found that when our friend was in the Yambol hospital there seemed to be a 2 tier system. She was in the area for the haves and was in a 2 bed area. Visiting times were very strict and the food was taken in by the family. But on the flip side our friends Sister was in the part for the have nots and a different story, a bit Dickensian. Old decaying building, needed painting and as you say oldun some of the smells were pretty bad. But the treatment was first class. We have 2 fairly new hospitals here in Yambol one is a specialist Cardiac unit the other a more general hospital with an English speaking receptionist (Stella)who is just adorable and very helpful. But these new places are as different to chalk and cheese to the old one. We have also been told that there is a brand new hospital built on the outskirts of town but no one can use it as there is no electric and no equipment. Mad is it not.

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mike&tanya
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:50 pm

Tanya`s dad was rushed into Karlova hospital when I was out there in 2010 , and as you say the surroundings are a bit basic and grubby (in fact I got a couple of flee bites whilst in the ward with him, mind you that year there were flees everywhere), but the treatment was fine, and yes we were in and out of the hospital with food and various other items.

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oldun
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:07 pm

Well no flea bites or infections picked up in spite of the lack of cleanliness! There might be a facility for having a private room but as you all know, we are half Bulgarian now (Tom has blood brothers!) and the Bulgarians seem to appreciate this fact. Tom is very low maintenance and very aware of how stretched my state pension is, bless him. I stress that this story only applies to the new hospital in VT and I believe there is a new cardiac hospital opened. It depends on what is wrong with you as to where you end up.
I forgot to mention that the prescription for the drugs was very expensive. 100levs for 4 types of drug. However he will now only be on one which is 36.40 for gastro problems. Good to get some more experiences on the forum because health is such a big issue especially for someone my age!!! My first thoughts, I have to admit, was I want to go home with my family for support and in a language I know. After all the help we have received and the respect from the hospital staff I am not so worried.
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itchyfeet
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:38 am

oldun wrote:
Good to get some more experiences on the forum because health is such a big issue especially for someone my age!!! My first thoughts, I have to admit, was I want to go home with my family for support and in a language I know. After all the help we have received and the respect from the hospital staff I am not so worried.

It's good to hear other people's experiences of the BG health system. We will be living near VT and no doubt if we had problems we would have to go to the same hospital. Won't forget to take our packed lunch though!!

s s
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Noddy
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:02 pm

Brilliant write up by oldun as I have come to expect and well detailed thank you oldun you really are a wonderful person and to share something like this just goes to show how you are willing to help others with your own experiences and knowledge.
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oldun
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:28 pm

Thank you for that Noddy. Tom went back to the hospital for his check-up this week. He went up to the ward he was in and the doctor came in almost immediately. Very pleased with his progress. Keep taking one of the tablets and see the village doctor now on his Thursday visits. It was all over in minutes - no waiting in 'Outpatients' for hours. I doubt this would have been the case in Britain so any of you worried about treatment here make some village friends, close your eyes to the state of the hospital and learn some basic Bulgarian words or take a dictionary or translator and you will be alright! By the way, if you are worried about warmth, worry not - it was toastie in the ward and the outside windowsill acted as a fridge for everyone's milk!!! Not sure what refrigeration would be in the summer although I did see a small fridge outside in the corridor but how that's policed goodness knows. A sense of humour comes in handy too. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
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Blink
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:41 pm

Glad to hear Tom is progressing well and that things are looking up. I know what you mean about the hospitals they really don't look much to be honest but I have to say that the care and the skills of the staff is second to none and I would recommend a Bulgarian doctor any time but I fear there are also those who have had bad experiences so its ups and downs as it is in most parts of the world.
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tonyb60
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:56 pm

The one thing that has really pleased me here is................... no Doctors receptionists . If you need to see a doctor just go and wait your turn. No making a telephone call for an appointment. No silly questions about how ill are you , and can it wait because there are no free appointments until about 4 weeks time .

Plus if you need to see a specialist its organized that day

Plus I get miffed that we have to pay for medication, when we have paid all our so called stamps back in the UK. But if the Bulgarians or anyone else for that matter goes to the UK its all there (free) paid for by the like of us I might add.

But as already said many times, ignore the structures and admire the service g

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starlite
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:57 pm

nice to hear Tom is making good progress, i can relate to your post on the standards of the hospital as i had the pleasure of a week in hospital before christmas. the ward was 3 bedded with clean en suite and clean bedding. basic yes very. the staff were lovely even though there was some difficulty with the language.

what concerns me is the blood donating situation. there is a thriving black market in blood donating where extortionate prices are charged for a donation. in the communist years you were rewarded with a day off if you gave blood, obviously now there is a shortage.

so what would happen if you could not find people to donate in a crisis situation, i dread the answer.
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oldun
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:35 pm

Interesting Starlite. All I can say about the blood situation is that the 120levs I was charged seemed standard as my taxi driver and 2doctors told me about this. Tom had at least 5 bags of blood and 5 people donated. Each were asked for ID and their blood tested before the donation. One of my lady friends from the village was not allowed as her blood pressure was not correct. Tom's name was taken as he was the person to have the blood. I was also told that giving blood was compulsory in Communist times, now its not so there is not enough blood. Some people do give blood to supplement their income because they do get paid for it but it seems it is a standard charge plus a carton of juice and chocolates.
I have not heard of a black market in blood which doesn't mean it doesn't exist but I can't see how when the nurses did the checking of the donors. We did hear jokes about gypsy blood because they are often the main donors.
I am only speaking from our experience. We must never forget that this is basically still an emerging country. I know its 20 years since Communism fell but things don't change overnight especially in a country as poor as Bulgaria. The rich Communists left the country with all the money!
As far as I am concerned the doctors and nurses do an excellent job considering the conditions they work in and the low wages.
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oldun
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:40 pm

Sorry I forgot Starlite's last question. What would happen if you couldn't get a donor? I don't imagine the hospital would let you die. I think the hospital would have a blood bank but if you can possibly find donors it would save using the stored blood. Tom had already had blood immediately on admission and it was only on the third day that I was asked to find donors. Tom most certainly would have died if that had been the case.
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starlite
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:48 pm

i will try to copy this SOFIA, Bulgaria — Her 85-year-old husband needed immediate surgery but doctors told her to find blood for the operation herself. So Slavka Petrova swallowed her anguish and went to haggle on the black market outside the national blood clinic.

View full sizeValentina Petrova, The Associated PressBlood traders,' people who offer a paid blood donor service, wait for 'customers' near the National Center for Hematology and Transfusion in Sofia.

It's a grim reality for patients and families in Bulgaria, a struggling EU nation where donors are troublingly scarce, hospitals are strapped for funds and blood traders — mainly Gypsy, or Roma, men — are thriving.

Trading in blood and blood products is illegal in Bulgaria, punishable by a fine of up to $7,100. But lawyers say it's difficult to prove an illegal blood transaction because that requires an official complaint lodged by the person who pays the donor — and families are so desperate they consider the black market blood donors lifesavers. from associated press.
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PostSubject: Re: Emergency hospital experience   Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:57 pm

going back a few years now ..a bulgarian friend of ours was desperate for more blood for his wife .....so we rallied a few local brits to the local hospital / clinic ..and all that could give , gave .......Todor,s wife recieved the amount she needed for that time ..the rest of the blood was credited to her for future use
obviously the doners did not ask for or recieve payment from Todor.....but they did recieve a small food pack from the clinic consiting of a buscit and fruit juice .

outside the doors were the local gypsies who were queing up to sell their blood to any relative who needed it...

not a good state of affairs !!!
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