One of the many concerns with traveling so far from home and staying for four months , was health care. The university had special emergency insurance for all of us in the group. I am not sure exactly when that evacuation would be necessary, as thank God we didn’t need it. It was my understanding, though, that we would be flown to Singapore for treatment and not all the long flight back to the United States. I guess I was more concerned about minor medical care, especially for David and me. I thought the young ones would not be needing to see the doctor. Boy was I wrong. We had some very strong medicine with a myriad of side affects for the expected Delhi Belly, but as neither of us are medically trained, dispensing it to other people’s children didn’t appeal to us.
I asked pretty much from day one if anyone could recommend a doctor and was very pleased that one of the young assistant professor’s mom was radiologist. She recommended gastrointestinal physician in our neighborhood! We felt it very important to have doctor who was recommended by another doctor. . . .icing on the cake! We were prepared with the symptoms arose and David took 4 of the students who had been sick for several days. The doctor was board certified in gastrointestinal medicine and cardiology! We were impressed with the appearance and care of the office, the promptness scheduling an appointment , his thoroughness, including blood work and the cost of the office visit for each student was $20 ! He prescribed some medicine and gave instructions for eating, such as rice, bananas, and yogurt to soothe the stomach and introducing Indian food slowly.
Monici’s mom also recommended Samved Hospital one of two nearby hospitals, if the need arose. It is a specialized hospital for orthopedic surgery and urology, but we did just walk in and were seen by a doctor. It is pretty obvious what tourist complaints are walking in from the street. I went with students there a few times. One had a broken toe from playing soccer. another Dehli Belly, and David took one girl to a hospital in Varanasi which was not as clean and new as Samedved. I guess everything in one of the oldest cities on the planet is old!
Back to Samed, We were always treated with such respect …..and deference, actually. That embarrassed me as we weren’t there for an emergency. We were ushered into private rooms to wait and be seen before the Indians who had waited quite awhile , sometimes. I would insist that we sit in the regular waiting room and wait our turn , but they would have none of that. Each visit the hospital was clean as a whistle, and the care was appropriate and successful. I would feel perfectly comfortable to go to Samed myself for treatment. That wasn’t necessary but comforting to know.
I did go with another girl to a Hindu hospital way across town, 40 -50 minutes in a rickshaw ride. One of the Indian students had recommended a doctor and called for an appointment. I remember vividly the ride and seeing a Muslim funeral procession carrying the body to burial, just outside the slum which was massive. Hindus cremate ,Muslim bury, and quickly after death. Finally we got to this huge Hindu hospital with a giant statue in the entrance. I don’t remember which god was being honored but just the size. This hospital was different, I would say public, as patients were lying on the floors waiting to be seen. Doctors have hours in the hospitals during the day and office hours in the evenings for private patients. We were given a guide to show us around this new hospital and get us to the places we needed. Hardly a word of English was spoken, but by the doctor. Again were were given special and immediate attention and all eyes were on the two white women. Again I tried to wait our turn , but it was useless. X-rays were taken and the hospital was so huge, that we really did need our guide. Again the cost was minimal and the hospital had a dispensary for the very reasonable meds.
Well, all this is to tell you if you need medical care in India, excellent care is available. Many of the doctors have trained in the US or the UK. My dentist in Arizona said, “Indians are quite intelligent and gifted in science.” That was my experience.
I was very careful to follow the travel nurse’s directions and I had only one night of discomfort. The students would eat street food for $0.30 a night and then be sick for 4 days! We met a family in Varanasi airport. Both the partners were doctors back to visit their Indian family from their new home in California. The man told me that they get sick every time they come back to India. There are many reasons why. . . . “different everything.” I even continued to brush my teeth with bottled water to the very end. Though I have to admit during the last week, we visited Manek Chowk for the night feast, and I couldn’t resist the delicious food and was fine!
I wish I had Manici’s mom’s phone number to give you but your hotel or guide can give you good information. Don’t let fear of medical care keep you from incredible India! It is different ,but all good if you choose carefully!
This Is Incredible India!