I told you we came home late, ate plain pasta for dinner, and went to bed. Well, Maia woke us up crying at midnight. She had vomited again in her crib and was obviously not feeling great. We had a very restless night's sleep and I was up at 6:45am to call the health clinic. They open their appointment lines at 7:00am and although I was calling continuously until I connected, the recording said I was number 8 in the wait. I was on hold for more than 20 minutes before someone finally answered and said there were no appointments available for Maia. There is only ONE pediatrician at our installation and only another TWO people (a doctor and a physician's assistant) who are able to see children under two years old. I was told that I could go to the clinic where she would be evaluated by an assessment nurse. The nurse would then have her seen by one of the doctors or the physician's assistant if she was sick enough. We knew she was dehydrated - her diaper was completely dry - so we drove 25 minutes to the clinic to have her assessed.
When I checked in, the receptionist told me there would be at least a 90 minute wait to see the assessment nurse! I was so frustrated!! Had they told me on the phone, I never would have driven all the way there. I didn't want her to have to wait when we knew she needed to be seen. Not only that, the health clinic has very few resources available and I was worried we'd wait 90 minutes or more to be seen and then referred to the emergency room anyway.
We decided not to wait and got back in the car to drive all the way back to the hospital.
German Emergency Rooms are great. We know in America, we all sit in the same room where we eventually see a triage nurse and then, after more waiting, we hopefully see a doctor. In Germany, there is no general waiting room. You go straight to the department you need to see. So for Maia, we walked straight to the Pediatric department and waited to be seen. Within twenty minutes we were seen by an incredibly nice (and completely bilingual) doctor. She listened to what had happened and after examining Maia, had a nurse draw some blood to check her hydration.
The blood work came back borderline dehydrated and the doctor said we could have her admitted for fluids and observation if we wanted. She also said we could take her home, give her fluids and bland food, and hope she was over the worst of it. We took her home after promising to bring her back to admit her if she vomited again. Before we left the doctor asked to see her again the next morning to reassess her. (How great is that?!? The ER does rechecks?!?)
The rest of the day went well and Maia slept 14 hours that night. The next day she was obviously much better and the doctor was happy to see her. She said she was glad she didn't keep her overnight but said she had been worried about her hydration.
Maia was feeling better and we were all very relieved. The doctor typed up a report and asked me to bring Maia to our health clinic to be reevaluated in the next couple days and have the information from the ER added to her records. When I got home I called to schedule the appointment and I was once again at a dead end…
When people hear we're in the military, they are always jealous of our health care. They assume we have a much better situation because we don't have to pay out of pocket for our health insurance. In a way, they're right. We don't pay out of pocket and we don't have deductibles or co-pays when we go to the doctor. However we live in a system much like an HMO and "imperfect" would be a great way to describe it! Remember, as with anything, you get what you pay for!
I already told you that we have only one pediatrician for our installation. She used to be the ONLY pediatrician for three installations! Recently another pediatrician was added, so now there are two. The installation where Maia and I receive our health care has about 600 elementary school aged children. That doesn't count children under five or those in middle school or high school (who technically could still see a pediatrician until age 18). ONE pediatrician. One. Adding another pediatrician seems like a great idea, but in the Army's perspective, it's actually a bad idea. You see, no one over 18 should be seeing a pediatrician. How old do you have to be to join the military? Yep, 18.
We live in a world of "Mission First," meaning family life, down time, and personal obligations are always pushed aside for the "mission." If we funded another pediatrician, it would mean losing a spot for a general practitioner or physician's assistant - someone who could guarantee readiness of the soldiers and make sure "mission first" was a priority. I understand that the soldiers are very important and I would never deny anyone access to medical care or treatment…but where does that leave me and my daughter? In my follow-up phone call, I was informed that there aren't any appointments in the near future for Maia. The ER doctor asked me to have her seen again, yet I can't.
Even worse: I found out that we'll most likely be charged for our first trip to the ER. The health clinic offered us the chance to wait to see a nurse, so as far as the insurance is concerned we were being taken care of. It doesn't seem fair to me, but that's how the system here works.
What's the solution? I'm not sure there is one unless we get more funding - which we all know definitely won't happen any time soon with all of the budget cuts!! So for now I gripe and complain (and blog!) and count down the days until we return to the States to a more normal health care arrangement for Maia. (In the States, private doctors are used much more commonly so health care isn't as much of an issue.)
And…after Maia's recheck at the ER I had to take Budva to the vet for a urinary tract infection. Seriously, when it rains it POURS!
Do YOU have issues with your health care too? Do you think the military has a great deal when it comes to health care? What would you do if you were told there weren't any appointments for your child?Pin It