Jamaica Magazine

Everything takes time Part 2 by American Retiree in Jamaica

This month, I would like to continue with the theme of two months ago,”Everything Takes Time.” It’s probably no surprise to anyone anywhere in the world that visits to the doctor’s office can be time consuming. The same holds true in Jamaica.

I go to Mobay Hope, which is a small hospital with a wide range of doctors in many fields of practice. Mobay Hope also boasts among other things an emergency room, extensive testing facilities, and an operating theatre. Patients can be seen with or without an appointment with scheduled appointments having priority. My experience, however, is you are taken in the order of your arrival. If I have an afternoon appointment and arrive in the morning, I am put next in line. The waiting room seats about 20 people and is full most mornings. Upon entering the waiting room, the receptionist has you sign in before being seated. The brightly lit room has a TV, water cooler, and many paintings on the wall. Unlike most doctor’s waiting rooms, there aren’t any magazines to read. This could be a good thing. If sick people are reading magazines and you pick it up, chances are you are also picking up their germs.

The next person to greet you is Mr. Bragg from the finance office. Everyone must visit his office in advance of being seen by the doctor whether you have insurance or not. It sometimes takes a half hour or more before you see Mr. Bragg or one of the ladies in the office. This could be why you are told to come a half hour early for your appointment. Once this is completed it is back to the waiting room to wait some more.

Several times while waiting, I have wondered if the doctor had a backup of patients or one with a difficult problem because of the length of time I had been waiting, when to my surprise, the doctor arrives late for his appointments. Now I know the wait is going to be even longer. My hope is most of the patients are there to see other doctors or to have lab work done.

When it is finally my turn, the nurse escorts me to her office where she checks my blood pressure, temperature, and pulse. She then brings me and my docket to the outside of the doctor’s office. The dockets are placed in a box outside of the office door and I sit down and wait some more. How long I sit and wait depends on more than the number of patients ahead of me. This general practitioner, at one time, also covered the emergency room. If any emergency came in, he could have been gone for an extended period of time. The positive part of this wait is there is an hospitality table with instant coffee, several varieties of teabags, and water crackers.

If I arrive at 9:00, it could be closer to 11:00 before I get to see the doctor. If the doctor requires additional testing, I’m prepared to spend the rest of the day. Once my tests are completed, and provided those tests results can be obtained there, I go back and wait for the doctor again. But, instead of waiting at the end of the line, I jump to the head of the line. Now that I’ve seen the doctor, twice, you probably think all the waiting is over. Not quite. The last step is the same as the first one, back to see Mr. Bragg and company to pay for all the tests. At last, I am free to go home, almost. Most likely the doctor gave you a prescription to be filled. This can be done at the pharmacy located on the property.

Not all doctor’s appointments take this long, but waiting an hour or two is the norm. Doctor Street, one of the very capable general practitioners, is in more demand than Doctor Ueker, the orthopedic surgeon. However, the last time I saw Doctor Ueker, I was there with my wife. She required a blood test which we had to wait for. In the meantime the doctor went into surgery. The test results came back long before the surgery was complete. That was one of the longest appointments with him. Most of his patients are in and out in a short period of time.

My first meeting with Doctor Ueker was the result of an accident I had at home. In the back corner of my yard is a mango tree which was overgrown with passion fruit vines from my neighbor in the back. In order for me to clear this vine I borrowed an old ladder from the neighbor beside me. She allowed me to bring the ladder to the roof of her laundry building in the adjacent corner to my mango tree. I climbed the ladder with my machete and started cutting the vines away. Before I could finish, all of my movements had caused the ladder to slide out from under me. It was twenty feet or more to the ground in my yard with old barbed wire in the path between me and the ground. It happened so fast, one minute I was on the ladder and a few seconds later I’m on the ground. I landed on my back in one piece, so I thought. As I got up to assess the situation, I noticed half of one of my pant legs was missing and blood covered my exposed calf. When I looked up, I saw the rest of my pants hanging on the barbed wire. It didn’t take long to realize I wasn’t seriously hurt. When I went into the house to tell my wife what had happened, she suggested I take a shower to wash away any dirt or blood from the wounds, before heading to the hospital. I think she just wanted to make sure I didn’t go to the hospital with dirty underwear! Now to the hospital, but, a slight problem. Here I am with a bloody calf, and my wife can’t drive our standard transmission car! Therefore, I had to drive myself while holding an ice pack on my calf! No problem!

During the healing process, a cyst developed on my calf, which required surgery by Doctor Ueker. I was quite surprised to find out that shortly after this day surgery, I could drive myself back home. Ah, modern medicine!

Thanks to Doctor Ueker and the staff at Mobay Hope, my leg has completely healed with only a faint scar to show for it. By the way, the mango tree is completely free of the vines and the neighbor has gotten rid of their passion fruit.

About the author

John Casey