|Milas Devlet Hospital|
Firstly, of course, people get sick and they need to go to hospital for treatment. One of the advantages of the health system here is that you can just walk into a hospital and see a doctor without an appointment, even if it's not an emergency.
This means that they never really know how many people are likely to turn up. Another problem here is that the Turks are a nation of hypochondriacs. This is not just my opinion. I can't tell you how many times I've encountered people who take great pleasure in telling you all about their aches and pains and almost boasting about how much medication they take. Mr A tells me that Turks have a great fear of cancer and heart attacks and will rush off to the hospital with the slightest pain...just in case.
I spent a few hours with Mr A at Milas Devlet Hospital today. I'm afraid I put up with various ailments for far too long, so when I eventually give in and decide to see a doctor, I often have a list of things that need sorting out.
I've had problems with my sinuses for a couple of months, which started with a flu bug, which also left me with a hacking cough. Yesterday my face and jaw were painful and I had a stiff neck and shoulders. Mr A came home last night and insisted we went to see a doctor today. The village doctor was due at 11am, but when we reached her makeshift surgery in the village school she wasn't there. Mr A phoned her and she said she would be delayed until 1pm but suggested we went straight to the hospital as she would have recommended this anyway.
It's a strange kind of system. I used to think that I would never be able to manage a visit on my own but I actually get how it works now. You register at reception and tell them what kind of doctor you would like to see and they then give you a strip of self-adhesive labels, printed with your details and a number, and tell you which room to go to.
You trot off down a long corridor until you find your consulting room, and a screen outside will flash your name and number when it's your turn. The doctor and her secretary work together. The secretary takes one of your adhesive labels and sticks on to your file. Then the doctor examines you.
I was then sent for a blood test, where I handed over another label. From there to the X-ray department, where 2 labels were stuck onto a large envelope and handed to me. We waited for about 20 minutes until my name and number appeared on the screen, then I handed the envelope to the radiographer. I had a chest x-ray and one of my face with my mouth wide open (to check the sinuses).
From there to another department to do a breathing flowchart (and hand over another label).
By this time, x-ray and blood test results were ready for me to collect and return to the doctor, where we waited for my number to appear on the screen. I just love the way this is all happening with computers connecting between departments, so that everyone knows where you are at any given time, so that you can be sure your number will appear on the screen at the right time.
Finally, the last of my labels were handed to the doctor, who checked all the tests and confirmed that my sinuses and chest were infected, and antibiotics and two other types of medication were prescribed. Other than that she said my lungs were in pretty good conditon. She also noticed from the x-rays that my arthritis is what is causing the ache in my neck and shoulders. This could also be contributing to the pain in my jaw, although I suspect it's actually a tooth problem (which I've been putting off dealing with). She has suggested I take up swimming which sounds like a good idea as it's gentle exercise and helps with the stiffness of arthritis.
Amazingly all this was done in less than three hours. Even though there were so many people there, the system runs well..rather like a very efficient conveyor belt.
But that brings me to another reason why the doctors manage to get through all their patients in one day. They're not all patients you see.
The Turks like to bring their families with them. Wives, husbands, children, mothers, fathers, etc. They make a day of it. They bring food with them and sit outside in the sunshine, or visit the hospital cafe. They gather in groups in the corridors, chatting away. You can be mistaken for thinking you have a queue of people before you, but there's probably only one out of every half a dozen people actually needing treatment.
The doctors don't seem to mind at all when a whole family troops into the consulting room. I can't imagine this happening in hospitals anywhere else. Can you?
Check out Villas in Turkey