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A hospital experience in Semey

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10/17/2014 22:59 EST

For anyone worried about medical care, our experience may put your mind at rest. Don't expect any trimmings in the isolation hospital in Semey, though.
Hospital thoughts 16 October2014:

We have been in the Infectious Diseases Unit of the Semey hospital for a week, now. Our medical supervisor, Doctor Stanislav, tells us that we will be able to go home today.
The experience has been a good one overall, but not for the faint-hearted.

The hospital consists of a complex of nondescript buildings,scattered in an apparent haphazard fashion across an area containing the ubiquitous grey-faced buildings that could house anything.
It is anything but haphazard-each building is a specialist hospital and they are all linked by an underground tunnel system as we found out when Lisa went to see the ENT.

We are the first English patients that our 24-year-old doctor has ever treated, Semey being a somewhat far-flung area of Kazakhstan. Don’t be put off by his age; he is a qualified GP, Paediatrician and is busy with his second specialisation in epidemiology-no fool! The medical care has been top-notch. From the 4 ambulance personnel who came to the apartment on Friday evening last week, to the Medical University Professor of Epidemiology and her team of trainees, we have been swept up into a system that runs like a well-oiled machine. And we are going home a week later, having been admitted under a meningitis scare, diagnosed with encephalitis, treated for this and secondary infections, all in 7 days!

How my heart bleeds for my own country’s poor medical ethic; my dear friend, Anthony, would still be alive had he broken his hip in Kazakhstan, instead, he died 10 weeks later of septicaemia and medical negligence, in spite of 3 state-of-the-art hospitals in the capital of South Africa. Worst of all, none of the 10+ specialists will ever be brought to book for their arrogance and incompetence. Here, I have the feeling, there is accountability.

Now to the ‘not for the faint-hearted’:
Any isolation hospital needs to be Spartan and this one is no exception; also it’s obviously the oldest and most dispensable what I’m saying looks like a WWII set up and one might be forgiven for thinking that the building could be a reflection of the state of medical advancement here-it’s not.
But the bathroom’s horrid, the bed’s reminiscent of a refugee camp and the decor, a mix of old and new, even down to the floor tiles which must span 5 or more decades, all on the same floor, next to each other, unmatchingly, but CLEAN. The place smells of good, old-fashioned chemical bleach (Chlorine) and the ultra-violet lamps are strategically-placed and used to keep up the standards of hygiene. South Africa has so much to re-learn.

Those Wiesenhof Coffee Shops, gift shops, pretty pot plants, 5-star decorated atria, matching bed-linen and curtains and extensive menus for dietary whims, count for nothing because they are useless when you are not receiving medical care. Shrouds don’t have pockets and hospitals don’t need them either.

Nevertheless, I would not have minded a mattress of more than 2” thick instead of my perfunctory bedroll which could have come out of a 50’s Western movie and I would give anything to teach the cook what can be done with macaroni other than adding water, only water, tasteless water, lots of water and water!

I’m ready to go home.

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