Sunday, May 09, 2004

From the Things My Shaliach Never Told Me file:

The health care here is so much better than I'd been made to fear. Before my aliyah, and until now, the feeling I got was "it's great that in Israel everyone has health insurance, but the quality of the care is weak. The doctors have horrible bedside manners."

Well, now that I'm sick and had to go to a doctor, it seems that the trick is really to ask around before you go to find out who to see. I posted a message on the listserver for English-speakers in Jerusalem, asking about walk-in clinics and recommended doctors, and discovered the following:

a) My national insurance provider, Meuchedet, has several high-quality clinics in Jerusalem with walk-in hours every morning. Not just one, but several, were recommended to me by other Americans as places where the doctors speak English, are pleasant, and give good care.

b) So many people wrote to me saying "my doctor is excellent, here's his number, he speaks English and will fit you in today if it's urgent" that I stopped writing down all the names.

c) There's a huge walk-in urgent-care clinic in City Center that is open until midnight. If you go there and you need the emergency room, they will take you to the emergency room or call an ambulance.

d) There's also the emergency room of my nearest hospital, which I hope I'll never need. But this is only covered after midnight; before that I'd have to go to the urgent-care place first.

Anyhow, I went to a clinic nearby during their walk-in hour, and here were my impressions:

- The facilities were old and worn
-The secretaries were friendly and efficient
- The doctor, a woman from England, was thorough and pleasant.
- She talked real fast, probably because she couldn't spend too much time with any one patient.
- The lab is in the same building, so I could have my throat culture and blood work in the same place.
- The doctor typed her notes for my visit directly into a computerized system, and printed out my prescriptions from her computer.
- After dealing with my more immediate problem (chest cold, earache, sore throat), we spoke briefly about some other concerns I have and she was very reassuring that the next time I see her, we could discuss all my options.
- I didn't pay a cent for this visit. Nothing. Nada. Completely covered.

-I went to the pharmacist, a 1-minute walk away from the clinic, and paid only $2 for my medication.

Overall: I don't care about the couches being worn or the building being old. What I care about is that the doctor be thorough and friendly, which she was, and that it's convenient for me to follow through on lab work and medications, which it was. I give the experience an A-.

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