Friday evenings are fun. They are the culmination of a tiring work week and generally are a precursor to a relaxed weekend. Okay, not that relaxed but at least a time to unwind, catch up with the chores, read, watch silly TV or movies and tolerate the kids waiting for Monday to come quickly. A regular evening like that was turned on its head last evening when the younger son cut his hand while trying something with the kitchen knife.
To cut a long story short, we were at the nearby hospital’s Emergency Room within minutes. He required sutures, a number of injections and medicines to get the situation under control. While he was being tended to by the doctor on duty along with the nurses, there were 2 other doctors handling emergencies of similar kinds in the wards. The room next door had two wailing kids. The sound of crying kids distresses me especially those in pain not the tantrum kind, those ones drive me mad. As the door was open, I could see these two young kids, very tiny in form with a bunch of tubes hanging from their mouth and hands crying hysterically. Their poor mother looked hapless.
While my son was getting stitched up and the husband and I waited outside, there was commotion as the poor lady with the two children was crying and saying that she had no money to pay the bill. She was disheveled and perhaps was a housemaid. Seeing her children crying pitifully and her shedding helpless tears cut through us. There is nothing that connects parents more than suffering children. On gentle inquiry, I found out that her kids had consumed rat poison by mistake while she was out for work. The hospital staff had flushed their stomachs but they still required some pediatric attention. They were asked to go to a government hospital. Also because apparently the police needed to be notified. The mother and the relative accompanying her had no clue what to do. And the bigger crisis was that they had no money to pay the bill which was already running into thousands.
While all of us grumble at the exorbitant charges these hospitals take, imagine how a poor housemaid whose children were in critical danger would do that. I requested the doctors on duty to do something for her. Also spoke to those at billing to reduce her bill on humanitarian grounds. Of course, I was naïve. No one seemed to care. The children still needed further medical attention but were foisted off because perhaps the parent did not have the funds for treatment there. The doctors acted unconcerned too. Perhaps because my own child was suffering or because I am not exposed to this on a daily basis, it affected me greatly.
While the situation was not getting resolved, the husband took things in his hands. He paid their bill and also gave them money to catch an auto to the nearest government hospital. I am so proud of him for knowing the right thing to do under such circumstances. He is such a fantastic calm head under such situations and God knows we’ve been through quite a few of these with the kids.
The incident was on our minds on the way back home. How grateful, privileged and a bit ashamed we felt to have access to healthcare, to be able to stand up for our rights and demand them and to not be pushed around and taken for a ride. How does the healthcare system – doctors, administrators etc. become so immune to human suffering when it clashes with monetary interests? Does a human life really matter so little especially when it belongs to a poor person? There are no easy answers, are there?
My thoughts and prayers are with that mother. I hope her children are doing fine.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it is naïve to expect private hospitals to help poor patients?