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Friday, November 11, 2016

The "You Won't Believe This": Part II - The Results" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Finally helping Carol get into the rental car after a few very long and tiresome days at the National Hospital of Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos Island chain.  She had been admitted to the hospital late afternoon on Wednesday, October 27, her birthday!  
Waitstaff at our resort singing Happy birthday to Carol.
She was searching for seashells earlier that day with our traveling friend Just Sue and me on Grace Bay beach when she developed pain in the center of her stomach.  Wasn't long before she was admitted to the hospital with appendicitis.  Operated on late in the day and began her recovery soon after.  On Friday she was given pain medication through her IV to ease the pain she was experiencing as well as meds for her nausea.  I entered the hospital about 10:00 AM to visit as I was told the previous evening by a nurse in the General Ward and when I asked directions to her room at the main desk, I was told visiting hours weren't until 1:30 PM.  I asked to talk to a hospital supervisor and when I spoke to her I was told, since I am a visitor to the island, I can visit any time I desire.  So there!  Found Carol looking better, but could tell she was stressed and with pain.  She said it was mostly nausea and not pain, and was being given meds for the nausea.  I left about 2:30, at the end of the official visiting hour, and promised to return in the evening for the 6:30 to 7:30 visiting hour.  Didn't want to press my luck!  In the evening she was eating some light food and looking better.  Then the door opened and in stepped the nurse for the evening shift as well as the night supervisor who had threatened to have me removed the evening before when I got upset since I couldn't stay for a visit with my wife after her surgery ... if only I had known the hospital policy last night.  We shared a stare and she left without a word to me.  Carol's nurse talked with us and told us she would be released on Saturday and I should plan to come in at 10:00 AM to get all the paperwork taken care of before we left.  I left shortly after they said visiting hours were over for my 15 minute drive to our  resort.  Saturday morning I got an early call from the hospital asking me to bring Carol's toothbrush and tooth paste, shampoo, deodorant, and shower gel.  She wanted to take a shower before she was discharged I was told.  So, I loaded all the items in a bag and headed to the hospital about 9:15 AM figuring I could get the items to her early so we could leave at 10:00 AM.  WRONG!  I walked into an empty hospital lobby and was confronted by security asking what I was doing there.  I explained I was asked to bring items for my wife by a nurse in the General Ward.  
Lobby of the hospital with mural on wall.
He told me to take a seat until he called the Ward.  My explanation that I was told I could visit anytime I wanted since I was a tourist didn't mean anything I guess. At 10:00 AM I was told I could go to the General Ward.  Carol looked much better and had a smile on her face when I arrived in room #7.  I gave her the bag, she looked inside and asked where the towel and washcloth were.  "Didn't tell me to bring any.  Aren't there any in the bathroom?" I asked.  Seems this hospital doesn't give you anything; no towels, washcloths, TV on the wall, clock on the wall, basic toiletries, etc.   Oh, well!  She was going home ... or so I thought.  After paying the bill, waiting for Carol's discharge papers and waiting forever for a wheelchair to arrive, we finally left close to 3:00 PM.  Carol had been given a prescription for pain drugs which we had to get at a local pharmacy.  I got her in the car and we left the hospital, heading to the pharmacy next door.  Wouldn't give me the pills, since the doctor had forgotten to sign the paper.  OK, a return trip to the hospital where I was told the doctor had gone home.  After they called him, I was told to head to a different pharmacy where the doctor had called to order the pills for us over the phone.  That was all that was needed as I got the two prescriptions for $11.00.  Total bill was just over $5,000 which I'm hoping the travel insurance will cover.  Thank goodness for credit cards!  The cost was perhaps a third or quarter what it would have been in the States.  Close to 4:00 PM we made it to the resort!!  Long day and Carol was tired.  We talked about the experience and she said she had some of the best and most respectful nurses she has ever had.  All were so concerned with her well-being and all were so helpful, giving her help whenever she asked.  Her surgeon was great.  The nurses at the hospital who did her second ultrasound sang Happy Birthday to her when they saw on her paperwork it was her birthday.  The cook staff made her porridge for breakfast and a special chicken soup for lunch.  I met quite a few of the nurses and agreed that they were fantastic.  Loved talking to all of them about their career choice, the islands where they had been born and a bit about their life.  They made Carol's visit to their island hospital bearable in a difficult situation.  We both wish to thank the staff and the doctors at the hospital for their skill and super treatment.   Even though everything wasn't perfect, the cultural experience gave both of us a different look at life in the Caribbean.  Getting a chance to talk to, and learn about,  the nurses and doctors from all over the world who have come to this tiny island to administer to the sick and helpless was an experience not many others get during a vacation.  Not the type of experience we expected, but nonetheless, it was an experience we will never forget.  And, a big "Thank You" goes to the manager and staff at the Ocean Club Resort for their constant concern and thoughts as well as the huge fruit basket they delivered to our room shortly after we returned to the resort from the hospital.  What could have been a terrible vacation turned out to be a real learning experience in island culture and the true caring hospitality of a great staff at one of the best resorts in the Caribbean.  You certainly can't go wrong with a visit to the Ocean Club Resort on the island of Provo.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

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