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Sunday, May 11, 2008

The scavenger hunt

I've mentioned on several occasions that I absolutely LOVE the Israeli socialized medicine set-up.  It has been good to us and our kids.  It has been good to my parents.  It has been good to pretty much everyone I know.

Oh sure, you can occasionally get a stinker of a doctor or a nurse who is having a bad day (week, year, etc.).  But compared with what we left behind, it is a wonderfully streamlined way of dealing with stuff that pretty much everyone has to go through in life.

There's no stress about pre-existing conditions, changing jobs, COBRA, etc.  Even homeless people (yes we have them here too) are covered!

Socialized medicine is on my mind today because I spent the day in the hospital.  Don't worry, nothing serious... and actually, nothing to do with me.  Our youngest, Yonah, is having his tonsils and adenoids removed tomorrow and today was the pre-surgery scavenger hunt where we got to spend the day running from office to office, meeting with surgeons, anesthesiologists, clerks, nurses, etc.  We even had a meeting with a child-specialist who explained the whole procedure to Yonah using pictures, drawings and an incredibly realistic set of toy operating room figures.

Of course, the day didn't start out as nicely as I would have liked. When we arrived at Hadassah Ein Kerem at 8:00AM (as requested) we were sent to the wrong department by the unhelpful guy sitting at the information booth. The second time I went back to him he seemed not to remember me and happily tried to send me to the same wrong place. I told him what had happened and he said, "Oh yeah, you have to go to ..." sending me to another level of hell where nobody had ever heard of us.

The third time I went back to him I said, "Let's try something different.  Let's pretend you want to help me instead of screwing me."  He got a very disgruntled look and sent me to an entirely wrong building in the hospital complex.  Rather than go back and beat him with a borrowed crutch, I did what I swore I would only do in case of an emergency:  I called in my protexia.

For you non Israelis out there, protexia is knowing someone who is positioned to be able to help you get something - anything - done faster or easier than would normally be possible to the general public. In this case it was calling my friend Noa who is a nurse at the hospital.

Noa quickly came down and brought me to the right place. When it turned out we had been given the wrong form by our town clinic, she gave me her office fax number and told me to have them fax the correct form there.  She got us settled with the first of our many stops, and while we were waiting to be seen, she ran down and got us the first (!) appointment with the anesthesiologist.

Once Noa had sorted us out and gotten us pointed in the right direction she went back to her regularly scheduled work-day. As we were headed for our last quick appointment on the Pediatric Surgery floor, we bumped into Noa in the elevator and thanked her again for getting us back on track.

Sometimes you just can't thank people enough. But I'm sure gonna try!

Anyway, tomorrow is the surgery, so if you want to send good vibes towards a certain 4 year old Israeli boy named Yonah* sometime tomorrow afternoon, feel free.

Expect a full update (with pictures) since I'll be staying over with him in the hospital tomorrow night, and they have WiFi!

*Those wishing to include Yonah in their daily תפילות (Tefilot/prayers) can use the name  יונה זאב בן זלתא/Yonah Ze'ev ben Zlata (ed. note from Zahava - go ahead and laugh! - it's my actual given name).

Posted by David Bogner on May 11, 2008 | Permalink


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One day our children are going to come to us and ask for an accounting of how their lives ended up online. That should make for good blogfodder.

More importantly, good luck to Yonah. Refuah shleimah.

Posted by: Jack | May 11, 2008 7:02:17 PM

Prayers done. More to follow.

Be-hatzlaha and refua shlema.

Posted by: Rahel | May 11, 2008 8:36:56 PM

What you are liking is the semi-reformed-and-privatized version of "our socialized medicine system". If you had been here when everything really was socialized, you wouldn't have liked it so much.

And you and I are both able to afford the most inclusive of the health plans because we are working in the most purely capitalist sector of the Israeli economy.

Before we go off waxing poetic over socialized anything....

Best wishes to Yonah.

Posted by: Ben-David | May 11, 2008 9:03:20 PM

Last June we went through the same procedure with our then almost 4 year old...........all down to the Child Psych lady who explained about the procedure to him! I was very impressed.

Little tip: even if Yonah is no longer using a stroller regularly, bring one with you.........the morning after the surgery, you will need to go back over to the other building for a check by the hospital doc (with all of the other post op peeps), and only if he's drinking or eating pops, will they clear you to go home. BUT, the stroller thing is helpful because he will be tired, and cranky, and hungry even though he may not be as excited about the pops as you thought he would be.

OH, and fyi: you need to buy your own popsicles (at the mall), and the fridge down the hall is available for holding all that you need........

GOOD LUCK! my son was dancing in the halls an hour after the surgery to our amazement.......hopefully it goes as well for Yonah. OH, and don't be alarmed, they really really cry after they are coming out of the anesthesia. It's normal......

ok, nuff from me!

Posted by: EmahS | May 11, 2008 9:49:04 PM

Go get 'em, Yonah! You'll be in my prayers. May you get all the ice-cream you need... ;o)

Although, Trep: after saying how great socialized medicine is for one and all, you then spell out something of a counter-example? Your anecdote seems to suggest that socialized medicine is great -- as long as you have someone on the inside to circumvent the "normal" flow of the system? Heh.

Still and all, general political debates are on another level from the little personal bits of life.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | May 11, 2008 10:35:44 PM

Zahava, first of all, I wish Yonah Zev a refu'ah sheleima. Second, you'll be glad to know that according to the Chazon Ish, as quoted by Rabbi Pesach Krohn, a person's Real Name is what people call him, not the name he was given by his parents.
Or, you can have an official name changing ceremony. But remember: names like Breindel only sound funny until you read Beouwolf.

Posted by: Barzilai | May 11, 2008 10:40:37 PM

Refuah shlema from me, too. I know a little boy who had the same procedure done at the same hospital a year ago, and his parents said it was no problem at all. They even sounded curiously enthusiastic about it.... You are in very good hands in every respect.

Posted by: Lila | May 11, 2008 11:12:38 PM

Wishing Yonah an easy and successful surgery and a speedy recovery! Keep us updated!

Posted by: Irina | May 12, 2008 1:12:04 AM

Refua Sheleima to Yonah! He will definitely be in my prayers.

Posted by: Sara K | May 12, 2008 1:31:36 AM

Kisses and hugs to my brave little nephew... I'll be waiting to hear from you when it's over...

Posted by: val | May 12, 2008 2:22:23 AM

A speedy and complete recovery to Yonah and to your healthcare system!

Posted by: Albert | May 12, 2008 3:28:57 AM

in addition to what ben-david wrote above, let's also remember that "socialist" is a synonym for heavily subsidized by crushing taxes

anyway, refuah shelemah. my son had his adenoids out earlier this year. it made a big difference for him.

Posted by: Lion of Zion | May 12, 2008 5:17:39 AM

Hope Yonah's surgery goes smoothly.

And a head's up - I spent some time with my son at Hadassah's children's ward last November, and I don't think the WiFi makes it to there. But there are terminals with internet access in the play area.

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | May 12, 2008 7:39:43 AM

Barzilai: Thank you for that very interesting link! I appreciate it very much.

David was surprised that I was willing to publicize my doozy of a name, but as much as I am loathe to use it, this is the name on my כתובה (Ketuba/marriage contract) as well as the name which is used for משברכים (Mishabeirachim/blessings at the Torah)....

It is funny what a mother-hen will do for her chickies....

Thanks so much to everyone for your good wishes. I suspect the anticipation of the "event" is much harder on us (the parents)....

Posted by: zahava | May 12, 2008 10:40:13 AM

Good luck on the surgery.
My son had his tonsils removed last year. Besides throwing up once durintg the night (probably due to some blood in stomach from the surgery) he felt fine the next day. Hospitals usually have a kitchen stocked for puddings and ice cream. (We were at SZ..)


Posted by: Lechi | May 12, 2008 11:11:30 AM

Refuah Shlema to your son.

I agree with your assessment of the medical system here. I am pleasantly surprised (and I have to deal with this issue fairly often because of follow-up for my daughter). As far as what you described with the run around, I had to do that stuff plenty in the fancy New York Hospitals when my daughter was ill. Israel gets a bad rap for stuff like this, sometimes deservedly so, but it happens everywhere.

Posted by: Baila | May 12, 2008 2:13:10 PM

Proteksia--great stuff. I have my own collection (lots of Hadassah ladies in my court).

Socialized medicine=taxes: people need medical care. You end up paying for it one way or another. Either you can pay for it directly, in a sensible manner, through taxes and health tax, so that people receive solid preventative care and treatment of illnesses...or you can pay for indirectly in the form of lost productivity, higher mortality, bankruptcy filings due to medical bills and people waiting until something is a dire emergency before seeking treatment (which they then cannot pay for) instead of dealing with health issues earlier in the stage when they would be easier and cheaper to treat!

Tax burden--speaking as an Israeli CPA--the tax burden has dropped significantly over the last several years, both on businesses and on individuals. For that matter, what would happen to the tax burden if you were recalculate it, but consider US health insurance premiums (your portion AND the employer co-pay) as part of the tax bill? Yes, we have the health tax, but it is not that onorous.

Is it perfect here? No. There is plenty of room for improvement.. Is it better than the States? Having lived many years in the States sans insurance for a number of years...without question.

Posted by: gila | May 12, 2008 2:19:16 PM

Yonah is probably out of surgery by now (I was on-call yesterday as usual), so speedy and painless recovery!

Posted by: QuietusLeo | May 12, 2008 2:39:40 PM

Ah me- what would any of us do without the wonderful Nurse Noa?!

Refua Shalema to your son.

Posted by: PP | May 12, 2008 3:26:47 PM

Just based on David's comments in the past, it sounds better than in the states not because it is socialized, but because alternate health is covered by his policy. I'm not insured here, but even if I were, I still wouldn't get medical care, because the kind of doctor I want is not covered. It also isn't tax deductible. This means even if I got an MSA, it still wouldn't be covered. I would bet that if socialized medical care came to the USA, I still wouldn't have medical care due to this issue.
On the socialized front, there is this term I have heard of: "medical tourism". It makes me think that perhaps the Israeli socialized health care is being subsidized by the profit based medical tourism. Just a conjecture though.
Good wishes to Yonah.

Posted by: Channah | May 12, 2008 5:41:04 PM

Keeping Yonah in our thoughts and prayers!

Posted by: orieyenta | May 12, 2008 6:32:05 PM

Just a quick note to let everyone know that Yonah is out of surgery (and recovery) and resting comfortably in his room.

Thanks to all who publicly and privately sent support and prayers -- it means a GREAT deal to both David and I!

An aside: the surgical team for pediatric ENT at Hadassah Ein Kerem is TOPS!, and while we made a point of thanking the team while there, they are truly deserving of a public shout-out!!!! As is the nursing staff in the pediatric wing! Everyone we met today was not only exceptionally professional, but TRULY kind! :-)

Posted by: zahava | May 12, 2008 11:49:54 PM

Not that you necessarily have the time or inclination, but you can complain about the information guy.

Ein Karem has a policy that they must follow up on complains and send a written note to the complainant about what was done to follow up on the complaint.

It's a start....

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | May 13, 2008 1:41:36 AM

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