Don't Judge a book by it's cover

2:38 PM

Now that my urge to change the background of this blog is done with, there was one entry I meant to write for a little while, and with about 8 weeks left to D-day you can imagine it's pretty much on my mind.
Most expats do wonder about health care in India, and what standards to expect, my answer is it really depends your budget to begin with, but let me tell you that is not the only thing.
Over the years I grew a bit disappointed by these "world class" hospitals and clinics and I'm yet to feel as world class as they should make me feel in these place. Be assured though that they have your bank account in sight, the fattest it looks, the happier they are.
I think the worst experience I had was in Wockhardt Hospitals, the first time they left me wondering what the deal was all about was last year when I was facing the ordeal of confirming a missed miscarriage diagnosis and on this occasion I visited two of their branches. The sad reality is that you notice from your entry point in one of these establishment if they are worthy of their world class status or not, and if they can't have receptionists that cut it it's already bad news. Heck more than 2 receptionists behind a counter in a department is bad news to me as in every cases, be it Wockhardt or elsewhere I found that they are more keen on gossiping and arguing with one another rather than assist you.
You would think that I maybe had bad luck, but 2 months ago I had my second not so good experience in Wockhardt and this time it was enough to make me not want to go there again.
Same radiology department, same mess, first you head there to report that you have come for an ultrasound and have an appointment, they send you back to the main desk and billing counter to pay, since this time I was going to the Bannergatta Branch I had to register, the lady there dumps a form for me to fill, and it took me 5 minutes, one of the question though puzzled me :

Nationality : 1) Indian 2) Foreigner

Yup no blank line to elaborate, which made me think that they basically want to know if you can be ripped off because your bank account might be in USD rather than in Indian rupee, if it was a medically relevant information to include on your file, I guess they would have asked for your ethnicity, though again I don't think that's any of their business, a Doctor can assess that during the consultation.
Once the form is filled, the lady takes 10 minutes, to enter the info in the computer, with the assistance of 3 other colleagues and 3 phone calls, then announce that the fee is of 1050 rupees for an ultrasound, a bit costly, but well still ok considered it was a complete anatomical scan of baby, includes taxes and 50 rupees for registration! Printing the bill, and making my fancy schmancy hospital card takes 4 people and another 5 minutes, then it takes 3 people to argue over the best way to put my credit card in the machine, and we wasted a good 30 minutes in the billing department, for something rather simple.
Bill in hand we head back to the radiology department, the receptionist tell us rather coldly that we can now head down the hall, take the second right and inside the first room.
We reach there to see chairs lined outside the room with people waiting, a sign on the door reading "Sonography" and no one to let us know if it is ok to go in or not, or wether the Dr will see us or even know we are here. Confused we look for a nurse (or anybody that looks like hospital staff), the person go in the room tell us the Dr is busy but that I can be next and leave, shortly afterward we see the Dr leave with a lunch box, and no one informed us about anything, we ask the same lady again and she goes in to talk to the nurse who assist the radiologist, she comes out with a Consent form I signed a couple of time, and is all about how basically I agreed not to ask for the gender of the baby and acknowledge it's prohibited by the law to do so, and am informed that the Dr went for lunch. Once he comes back we are showed inside the room, I lie down on the bed, expose my tummy and am forced to hear the Dr complained how I'm a few weeks late for a quality anatomy scan and that he do not understand why I waited so long, I try to explain that it's a repeat of an incomplete one my OB ordered, but he already seem bored by it, during the whole scan he gave the impression he didn't care much about what he was scanning, and at one point his mobile phone rang (and I thought we were supposed to switch these things off entering the radiology department) and goes on and on chatting on the phone for nearly 10 minutes, doodling with the ultrasound probe on my tummy not paying attention to what happens on the monitor, once the call is finished, he do not even apologies one bit about the disturbance and goes on doing his job measuring baby bits on the monitor, though frankly the way he did it he could have had a tumor to measure it would have been the same, 2-3 nurses and other doctor comes in to disturb some more about their patients and their juicy findings which frankly do not concern me, should not reach my ears and all that while I'm belly up and exposed! Once the scan is over no one offers me a towel to wipe the gel of my tum, and Dr grump again complains I'm 3-4 weeks late for a quality scan and that all appears to be normal, we exit the room puzzled by this whole attitude. Let me tell you all the marble and fancy paintings and flowers decorating the place aren't worth the care I got and certainly not for that money.
If it was just Wockhardt I would think it's bad luck, but I generally saw that the fancier the hospital or clinic looks, the crappiest the service is but the highest the fee you pay are.

of all the doctors I had to see, or the clinics I had to visit for various exams and tests, the one that look a bit old fashioned and worn out were the most efficient ones as well, if that can be an indication.
And there is of course my OB-GYN who has a private practice and might be a bit on the expensive side, but is professional and efficient. She delivers babies in Manipal Hospital, and at our last check up we asked about it, and she immediately gave us the name of the PR office there to arrange a tour so we could get an idea of what rooms are available and how things work.
And how things work was exactly what I wanted to know, so we headed there, to find that that Public Relations Office is clearly signaled and that the lady we were to see had already been informed by our OB that we would come. She gave us a slip giving us admission to the various levels we were to visit and off we went we also asked her were the Physiotherapy department was since I wanted to sign up for Lamaze classes as well.
We found the whole hospital easy to navigate as everything was clearly signalled in fuss free signs, the halls might not have been decorated with work or art, or the floor been covered in glossy Italian marble, in fact the whole place looked old fashioned but clean enough, the best rooms were obviously looking fancier, but not ostentatious, the nurses who showed us the rooms on each floor, were polite, and took time to answer our questions, and in no place did we wait more than 2 minutes to get someone to open one of the room for us to see. The only floor we could not see was the Labour and Delivery, the head nurse there profusely apologised for the bad timing as all rooms were taken and couldn't be visited, but told us to try coming again at another time.

We then found our way to the basement floor where the physiotherapy department was, we got a bit lost there though, but we asked for direction which we got promptly and clearly, once we reached the place we asked for the Dr in charge of Lamaze classes, the receptionist told us to wait a moment, which was just a few seconds really, and we were put in the hand of the Dr in question who again gave us all the info about the classes and when they started, which the husband is to attend, in 10 minutes we were out of her office with all the information we needed and a booking for the next class done. And while the halls of the physiotherapy department seems pretty high tech from the few equipments I've been able to glimpse.
Now quite obviously I don't have an in depth experience of Manipal Hospital yet, but i at least already saw that the small staff is efficient and manage people well enough which is a big plus in my book, and that was what I needed to feel a bit better about some of the concerns I had regarding Labour and Delivery.

So from my experience I can truely deduct that a hospital cannot be judged on how it looks like in India and that labels such as "International Standards" or "World Class Facilities" doesn't mean you will get any good service but that your wallet might be sucked dry wondering you what justified the act.


  1. Thanks so much for covering this subject. I am an American married to an Indian man and we live in the US. During my two pregnancies I often wondered how my medical care may be different if we were living in India. You have satisfied my curiosity! I really enjoy your blog!
    Best of luck to you and may the rest of your pregnancy be uneventful!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog Rachel, and I'm glad you enjoy reading it :-)

    Medical care is very different from what I was used to in Switzerland though some of it is actually way better in India :-)


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