We have had an … interesting week. In the grand scheme of things, it is fairly mild and moderate compared to others. And my ability to say that sentence comes with a fairly healthy dose of gratitude.
EG Sinister had emergency surgery earlier this week. Without going into all the details, he had severe pain on Monday night and it was not calming on its own.
Like most parents, we considered our options:
- Panadol and sleep on it
- Dial-a-Doctor (or whatever it is called) where a GP comes to your house after hours without cost because it’s covered by Medicare and our awesome public health system
- Take him to the hospital, about 7mins drive from our house, which is a public hospital and no cost for us to attend the Emergency Ward.
Considering the level of pain he was in, we took option 3. That’s right–we had options and we could choose one at our convenience with only Sinister’s health in our mind. That is a huge privilege not shared with many around the world.
When Sinister and I arrived at the hospital, he was helped by a security guard and nurse into the Waiting Room. He was seen to by a triage nurse and then brought to the Paediatrics ward, all within a 20-minutes.
As the pain increased, he was quickly attended to, first by a doctor and then by a specialist who organised emergency surgery. They arranged surgery within an hour of the specialist’s consultation, around 1am.
The good news is Sinister was out and moved to the Children’s Ward by 4am the same morning. Once again, at no expense to us and without delay.
Now, I want to add a bit here: We have private hospital cover as well. However, in an emergency, we go to the closest emergency ward available (our local public hospital). If any of us are admitted to the hospital, the public system will pay for our excess and then claim the rest back from the private health insurance provider. We are still contributing towards the public health system, the insurance company still receives its excess, we receive the immediate care required and have no out of pocket costs.
What I don’t understand is why anyone would be against public health systems? I am more than happy for my taxes to contribute to a universal health care, especially for our less fortunate. Hell, I have been that less fortunate person earlier in my life and the difference between private and public is huge.
Flashback: When I was around 20-years-old, I had a severe asthma attack at work. It started off slowly, at which point a colleague took me to the GP next door to see if we could prevent it from worsening. No such luck and the GP called the ambulance.
What I didn’t know at the time (since I was trying to breathe and stuff) was the GP had given the ambulance drivers instructions to take me to St Andrew’s Hospital, a private hospital, for observation. In doing so, they drove past the public hospital. Subsequently, I was charged $350 for turning up in an ambulance and receiving a chest x-ray. Even the ambulance driver commented, an x-ray is not necessary–she needs oxygen and observation.
Imagine having to face this every time you were ill. Every time you feel your chest tighten or the second dose of Ventolin isn’t working, you freak out at the cost of receiving the urgent care you need to survive. In Australia, it sounds insane. But we are pretty lucky compared to others.
Our health system is not perfect. We can have weeks to wait for a GP appointment. I know some people who have 6-12mths waiting for specialist appointments for their weak hearts or kidney stones. But generally speaking, you can drive right up to the door of any public hospital and know there are a bunch of nurses and doctors who are eager to do their best to help you. I have visited our hospital often enough to know we have a large number of nurses and doctors who want to help.
And that’s important to note: Our public health system is brilliant but it is held up on the shoulders of all the hard-working staff at the hospital. They are human, like the rest of us, but we place heavy expectations on them to perform miracles. Often they do; sometimes they don’t. Either way, they deserve as much appreciation as the system which allows us to access them.
If you are fortunate enough to have access to a working public health system, make sure you take the time to thank the staff who provide it. For those who either do not have or do not support universal healthcare, I would be really interested to hear your reasons why.
Oh, and Sinister: He is absolutely fine. He is recovering really well, taking a few days off from school and resting as much as he can. He now has a new pain benchmark and a new respect for the solid advice he has been given for a speedy recovery.
EG Dad and I are also recovering well, finally catching up on sleep and not stressing over every sound made by the spawnlings.
Parenting, right? At least we’re doing it within driving distance of a public hospital.