Since I’m heading back to Singapore in mid December, I thought that I should take the opportunity to make use of my Singaporean subsidization and have a medical check up like dental. Besides, I’m way behind my recommended two times a year check up.
Hence, yesterday, I made an online appointment for a dental checkup and today, I got a reply that I was scheduled for the 1st December.
I wasn’t too surprised though, since my experience with the Singaporean public health services has always had a long waiting time. A month at the very least.
How it works is like this, you do a walk in to any polyclinic nearest to you. After registration, you go to a consultation room and ask the doctor for a referral if you wanted to visit a specialist. And they’ll make the arrangements and give you a letter and about a month later, you’ll see the specialist.
Its quite a lengthy process. But its not too bad in the end as the fees including the medicine are subsidized, hence it was more affordable as compared to going to a private clinic.
But in anycase, speaking of medical services, I thought that I’d share with you my experience with the medical services here in Rome. Well, granted that it was just a one time experience, so I’m definitely not an expert at this. But despite the horror stories that I’ve heard online, my experience wasn’t all that bad.
Middle of last year, I had an irritant in my left eye. Initially I thought that it was a small grain of dust in my eye. So I beared the irritating feeling. But when the discomfort persisted for days and didn’t go away during the weekend, I got alarmed. Peering in the mirror, I found a white dot near the edge of the iris. Cart started to feel anxious and dragged me to visit a hospital.
I was surprised. Was there a working clinic during the weekend? Practically nothing is open during the weekend in Italy, especially towards the evening onwards. But Cart told me that there are hospitals that are open till late for emergency issues.
it was evening time when we reached the Ospedale Regionale Oftalmico. You take a number queue and sit in the waiting room for about 15 – 30 minutes. After which, you have a person check you and see how severe your ailment is. He also fills in the personal particulars and then gives you a new queue number.
What was interesting is that the queue number is colour coded. Red for the highly serious cases, followed by yellow, then green and then white, which is the least serious and a longer waiting time.
And back to the waiting room we go.
Eventually, about an hour and several cups of coffee and hot chocolate later, we were finally examined by a doctor. He did a diagnostic, examining the eye under a light. And then a swab on my eye for a sample, dropped in an ointment and finally put a bandage and said that I had Corneal Abscess. Finally he gave us a list of medical prescription and asked me to come back for follow up checkup.
By the time we left the hospital, it was already night time, but luckily there were still a few pharmacies which was open. (Pharmacies and clinics are strangely, not in the same building here) Cart went in and bought the prescribed medicines.
About a week later, I was back at the eye hospital, during the day this time, bringing with me the contact lenses that I was using the week that I had the eye irritant. After about an hour of waiting, we saw the doctor and he diagnosed from the swab that it was a germ in my eye, but because it was close to the cornea, it was harder for it to fade away as opposed to dirt going in the white part of the eye.
In any case, I continued with the medication to which, in no time, I found out that I had an eerily fascinating large pupil, just like a cat’s eye at night. The bad side is that I was very photosensitive. Too much light made me feel extremely uncomfortable. But eventually the spot went away.
And some time later, we had the lab results from the doctor. My contact lenses were germ free hence it was still a mystery as to how I had the white dot.
But what is interesting that I’ve noticed is that apart from the medication, we didn’t have to pay at the time. And I’m not even an Italian. Cart tells me that, this is how it was practised in Europe – every person, regardless of their nationality gets a chance to be treated. It would be bad to turn away a non European sick person, who will in turn infect others.
I thought that, that was cool.