Expat Magazine

Turkish Medical Care

By Ellen @ElleninTurkey
It had been over a week since Billy’s motorbike accident, and he was still in pain. He’d originally thought there was no point in getting an x-ray, because there isn’t anything to be done for fractured ribs anyway.  But as our trip to Italy grew closer, and more and more of his friends suggested he should get checked out, we decided to pay a visit to the new Olimpos Hastanesi in Konyaalti, not far from where we live.

Turkish Medical Care

The neighborhood, Konyaalti, Antalya

Upon entering, we were immediately impressed by how calm and orderly everything seemed.  And we didn’t have to wait at all.  I’ve more than once spend half an hour waiting to get to a bank teller here, but Billy just walked right up to the counter and asked the receptionist if she spoke English.  She didn’t, but she went and got a beautiful young woman who was to be our guide for this visit.
She asked for his passport (fortunately I’d reminded Billy, as we were getting on the bike, that he’d probably need some identification) and whether he had insurance (he hadn’t).  Previously, a residence permit was sufficient to get the Turkish price, but a recent change in the law meant that without insurance foreigners with permits are treated as visiting foreigners.  So Billy had to pay 75 TL to see the doctor.
Our lovely guide then took us in the elevator to the orthopedic ward, where we were seated for about a minute before being called into the doctor’s office.  We were then introduced to a handsome young doctor who spoke almost perfect English.  I felt like I was in the middle of an episode of General Hospital (an American soap opera).
After Billy explained what had happened and the doctor did a brief examination, Billy was taken for the x-ray. That took less than a minute, and then we were back in the doctor’s office, where he showed us the film and pointed out the "fissure, not a fracture", told Billy to take it easy and avoid the motorbike for a few days (advice Billy ignored, of course) and that he’d feel better in a couple of weeks. This was pretty much what we thought, but it was good to know there were no broken ribs and no impingement on the lung (Billy had had some trouble breathing).
Oh, it was another 15 lira for the x-ray, bringing the total bill to 90 TL (about 45 Euros). And we were in and out, without an appointment, in less than an hour.  Why is it that when I get a mammogram, with an appointment made months in advance, I have to wait half an hour for my name to be called, then I’m given a robe and told to wait in another room, then I have the mammogram, then I wait some more, and then I’m eventually excused (if all is well) without seeing a doctor, and this takes all day?  What is it they know here that we don’t know in the U.S.?
And another thing:  I recently had an infection which I took care of by going to the eczane (pharmacist) who gave me the antibiotic that cured me within hours.  In the States, I would have had to call a doctor to get a prescription.  I might have had to make an appointment with the doctor first. And if I couldn’t get to the pharmacy before it closed, I’d have had to wait another day.  Here, every pharmacy has a list of late-night pharmacies in the neighborhood. Ours was a short bike ride from our regular pharmacy.
All this is to say, one needn’t be afraid of getting sick or injured in Turkey.  Medical care here is just fine.  In fact, we in the West could learn a few things from the Turkish system.

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