Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Asthma Attack in Panama


Ever hear of "treasure house" dreams? That would be a dream in which, for example, you walk into a high end clothing store where everything you might ever want is on sale for $20.
Well, how about a medical treasure house?  My buddy Dennis, who is currently visiting and speaks no Spanish, had a bad asthma attack last night. When he knocked on my door, choking, to say he needed to go to the hospital, I called a taxi and we raced to the Urgencia entrance of the hospital here in Las Tablas (Panama). There, they immediately shooed him into the treatment area, hooked him up to an oxygen feed, gave him a breathing treatment, an injection of something powerful, and two more breathing treatments over the course of the next two hours.  Meanwhile, I went to the reception area and paid his bill.  It was $2 - two dollars.
No, that is not a typo.
The nurses and the doctors were extremely competent, had great bedside manners and were most solicitous of his well-being.
The only potential fly in our ointment was something I came prepared for: the hospital is air conditioned to the point of refrigeration.  For whatever reason the place seems to be maintained at 40 degrees or less.  All the staff wear sweaters and jackets.  Having taken one previous trip there from which I departed with chattering teeth and incipient chilblains, I brought along a couple of blankets and we were quite cozy for the duration.
For a $2 medical bill and excellent care, I am quite willing to freeze for an hour or so.  Wouldn't you agree?