One of the experiences I think is unique in countries with social medicine infrastructure, is when you go to a public hospital for services. There is definitely an inconvenience because you may wait for hours to see a doctor, yet it is something I am grateful for because I know how difficult it is to be sick in US without having health insurance.
It is a nightmare of a different kind which I may write about another time.
So today it was one of those days in a public hospital where I got to spend a few hours waiting, observing the crowd, getting annoyed, amused, exasperated and finally able to say ok, I am done, I can go home now.
I think the best places to get a feel about people’s psychology is to go one, to a farmers market and two, to a public hospital. You can observe the interactions, the comments about people who did not wait in queue but saw the doctor right away, the complaints about the overall system, which political party is responsible for the chaos, etc.
One incident today drew me in. A woman in her 50s brought in an elderly lady who was clearly in her late 80s, perhaps early 90s. They sat next to me, and the grandma who was literally one of those grandmas that you want to hug and keep close to you forever-sweet, warm smile with hardly any toothies-started telling me what was going on for her. Very soon the doctor took her in and our conversation ended.
I saw them leaving and was under the impression they were gone, when after an hour or so they came back and sat outside another office. Mind you that even though the space was lightly air-conditioned, it was a 97 F degree day.
As I watched them, trying to understand what was going on because the doctor was coming in and out of the office telling them to wait, I heard the escort telling the grandma to not cry. She must have had it by then because she seemed desperate, and was crying like a little child who is lost in a huge market place.
I came to tears. It is unacceptable in this time and age to have a 94 year old woman (someone asked for her age) structurally almost bend in half, be pushed around from office to office in a public hospital for two hours, experiencing such a distress.
It is actually beyond unacceptable.
In my mind I may argue that it is better to have at least this possibility than not being able to see a doctor at all because of lack of social insurance and money. But please, no matter what, this should not be the case anymore. Not in 2016 in Europe, even if it is Southern Europe.
This is an aspect of human rights, let’s not forget that. Being treated with respect and dignity is not reserved only for the refugees, women and children. It is for everyone, including our elders who carry wisdom and life experiences we may never have, and who in many cases do not have someone to speak up for them.
I just hope that when we are in situations where we see elders have such a hard time, we are able somehow to do something to support and help them go through whatever it is. Even if it is holding their hand in the waiting room, assuring them everything will be over soon, or sending them a heart felt smile. ❤