Thursday, August 14, 2008

The glitch

I mentioned yesterday, the glitch in our trip to Narita Airport on Tuesday. The trip to Narita by car takes about 4 hours past small towns and miles and miles of rice fields. About half way to the airport Tetsu's cell phone rings and it is from his mother. Uh-oh. We had seen her the night before around 8:00 and she had been fine but during the night she started to feel ill and here at 9:30 am she was calling us to say she needed help.

There's not a lot we could do. We're in another prefecture. Takumi has a plane to catch. Tetsu told her to call his sister but Tetsu's family is complicated and no one is talking to anyone and Obachan said she'd rather die before she called the sister. Well, she very well might. She hung up saying she was calling an ambulance. The next couple of hours we didn't know what had happened, just focused on getting Takumi to the airport but finally made contact with the hospital and they confirmed that Tetsu's mother had come in by ambulance and had been admitted. She seemed to be resting peacefully and not to worry about her. Tetsu's mother has been in and out of this hospital so many times that they know her very well but it was a relief to know she was being cared for (we had visions of her lying unconscious in her apartment) and we stayed with Takumi until he went into the airport boarding area.

At 8:30 Tuesday night we finally got to the hospital and found Tetsu's mother in fair condition but not happy because she had to borrow so many things. She wanted us to go to her apartment and get all the things required for hospitalization in Japan. After searching through her apartment and buying things we couldn't find and dropping them off at the hospital Tetsu and I finally got home around 10:00pm.

So here is the list of the things that the hospital requires for admittance.

Required goods for hospital admittance
(Please make sure all items have the patient's name written on them)

  1. Digital thermometer 1
  2. Plastic sheets 2-3
  3. Bath towels 3-4
  4. Towels 5-6
  5. Pajamas 4-5 pairs
  6. Underclothes 4-5 sets
  7. Fanny wipes 2-3 boxes
  8. Disposable gloves 1 box
  9. Tissue 5 boxes
  10. Wet tissues 2-3 boxes
  11. Spoon 1
  12. Plastic drinking cup 1
  13. Chopsticks 1 set
  14. Drinking spout 1
  15. Bib 1-2
  16. Bath items (soap, shampoo, rinse) 1 set
  17. Personal items (toothbrush) 1 set
  18. Slippers

(patients using dentures need to bring denture cleaning items)

(please buy diapers at the hospital supply center)

I'm most surprised by the need for a thermometer and the disposable gloves. You'd think that those would be part of regular hospital supplies. Oh, and the hospital requires the patients to bring all their own medicine from home if they've been taking any. Tetsu's mother had BAGS and it took awhile for the nurse to figure out what was for what. (Complicated by the fact that Obachan gets medicine from three or four different hospitals. No one but me thinks this is strange.)

I don't know. I always think if I end up with some terrible disease I probably will be resigned to my fate and not put up much of a fight. I just don't have a lot of confidence in the Japanese system. I know the doctors have been well-trained and have gone through a rigorous education system, but hospitals in general are dingy green depressing places with patients shuffling around the halls in plastic slippers, hard benches in rows like in a bus station, stained curtains surrounding the out patient area. I remember thinking when I was pregnant and sitting in the waiting room that if the hospital staff would just hand me a rag I could clean the place up a bit.

The plus side is that hospitalization costs very little and for Tetsu's mother who is elderly and disabled her hospital stay for a couple of weeks may only run a $100 or so.

Would you rather pay or bring your own spoon?


Cosmos and chrysanthemums said...

G,Day , That is an unbelievable story. No wonder when we travel the Travel Agent urges you take out the best insurance to your place of travel.Am I right in thinking that this is a public hospital? Australian hospitalisation and visits to Doctors are covered by the Pension Benefit and after the age of 65 everything is free. You can still choose to take out Medical, Ancillary and Hospital cover. This will allow you to choose a Private Hospital. Do you get to take the unused items home again? Is it worthwhile having a parcel made up for emergencies? My husband had trouble with his Pancreas a few years ago , we never knew when an attack was imminent. I had a bag packed with pyjamas , toiletries, handkerchief , pen and some crosswords that he had not done in the bag I would whip this out of the wardrobe and off we would go or the Ambulance would take him to the hospital and I was able to put the bag under the stretcher.Pleased to say after an E.R.C.P.procedure in 2005 and a synthetic tablet that keeps his amylase and Lipase in control we have not had any dashes for some time, years in fact.

Mary said...

I think I'd rather pay. I'm just not that organized to collect all the supplies needed and get them to the hospital and deal with the stress and emotional issues of having a loved one hospitalized.

I hope your MIL does well and is released home soon.

Shasta said...

Wow that would be so hard to be far away and worrying about your MIL. I'm glad she is okay.

I am surprised about the cleanliness standards, since so many studies have found that so many people wind up getting more sick at hospitals, etc.

I don't think I had to bring anything but clothing when I went to the hospital. In fact the hospital provided everything - the diapers and wipes and towels and blankets for babies. They even gave me slippers for the walk back from the shower.

It would be nice to be able to bring your own things to save money, but you should also be able to buy it from the hospital at their cost. I would think that would be easier on the hospital too to just order large supplies rather than figuring out what to do if the patient didn't bring something. It doesn't make sense - many hospital visits aren't planned and unless you keep an emergency bag ready at all times there is no way you would have time to pack all that stuff.

Helen said...

Hhhmmmm... I don't really know the answer to that. $100 sounds cheap for a couple of weeks, but what if you end up in hospital without the required items (had to smile at the fanny wipes - is that really what they call them, and what is the difference between them and the wet/dry tissues?, do you have to go without? It is a while since I have been in hospital here in New Zealand and I'm pretty sure I didn't have to bring anything like that long list. One time was nearly 18 years ago when my son was born, one month early and while we were away on holiday visiting family. Because we were visiting family I hadn't even taken a dressing gown with me and I certainly didn't have and sanitary pads. I remember having to ask in the middle of the night for some and the nurse being not so pleased.

Clare said...

In this day and age when hygiene is of the utmost importance, I'm surprised at Japan's standards. I would have thought they had state of the art hospitals. We pay roughly 100€ a night, depending on what you are in for and you aren't allowed to step out of bed without permission!!

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Well, well. Food for thought and contemplation. I would rather pay. I have lived in other countries and understand the difference in hospital policy based on culture but it always brings me back to the thought that what comes from some people's homes may not be clean and disinfected, thus contributing to infection. It's a conundrum. I pray that she will recover with speed and vigor.

Christine Thresh said...

A conundrum indeed.

It would be nice to have some of my own things, but the list seems overwhelming. I hope patients can take home their unused stuff when they leave.

I think of Japan as very, very clean so your report about hospitals surprises me.

I do hope your MIL feels better soon.

Katie said...

So very interesting. And so different than the U.S.A. Do you have to take the towels and sheets home and wash them to take back again? Two weeks is so long. Most of our hospital stays are just a very few days and then if more care is needed, especially for the elderly who need more than home care, they go to a nursing home for a few weeks. Of course this is not true of critically ill patients. We can take personal items in to use but the hospital provides anything you don't have. Hospital costs are so high here. I wonder what a breakdown of the cost of these items would be. I do know our health care system needs worked on too. Hope dear MIL is feeling better.

The Calico Quilter said...

What an ordeal. I hope your mother in law is better soon and home. As for the spoon? I guess I'd rather bring my own if the hospital marks up the cost as much as on everything else in the medical industry! Seriously, I would think the cleanliness standards would be better adhered to if the hospital laundry was washing towels and sheets and such, and tye were supplying disposables. I am shocked that Japanese hospitals aren't state of the art and spotless, given what you've told me about the culture. And as for medications, at least in the hospital my mom went to last year, they don't let you bring your own meds, but check your dosage from your doctor, supply the pills (at a ferocious mark-up!) and supervise you taking them. I guess they are trying to avoid malpractice lawsuits. And, as with mom's visit last year, why cause the family to scurry around and collect all this stuff in an emergency?

The Calico Quilter said...

Oh, rats. "Tye" should be "they". Why can't I type?

Mart Bright said...

I just read an article in the New Yorker that talked about antibiotic-resistant infections in hospitals. It was very frightening. Since the infections are spread by the staff themselves or equipment, I think I'd rather bring my own thermometer! Seriously though, it's generally catheters and things that spread disease, plus not washing hands properly. Here in the States our costs are ridiculous--there must be a happy medium between what we have and bringing your own wipes! The Aussie system sounds pretty darn good...

Chocolate Cat said...

Oh my goodness that was a glitch!! Hope Obachan is doing okay now. That is an amazing list of supplies required!!! I know when my cousin was teaching English in Japan and got sick the medical system overwhelmed her a little and she came home to Australia for surgery. Do you actually use everything on the list???

amanda said...

Reading your post reminded me of how a Canadian friend ended up in the hospital with mono when I was living in Japan (JET Program.) I was in a fairly rural prefecture and when her parents arrived from Canada to check on her, they were SHOCKED by the hospital. She was on her way back to Canada as soon as they could get her well enough to travel. But being in the U.S., I suppose on some level you have to at least appreciate the fact that in Japan, everyone has access to (some) health care since here many go without care until emergencies due to not having health insurance.