Hospital Heaven

Unfortunately, my mother-in-law needs an operation. The good news is she’s having it in Sao Paulo.

I accompanied her to the hospital for the initial visit with the first doctor who was to make a recommendation for treatment. While we waited for her turn to register, a woman passed out sweets. In the lobby of the doctor’s office, they provided coffee and biscuits. These were my initial clues that the medical system is different in Sao Paulo.

Yesterday she got a call from the hospital. Here is what they wanted to know:

What is her religion?

Is she a vegetarian or does she eat meat?

Will she be having a guest sleep in her room at night, and if so, do they prefer a high or low pillow? Do they prefer a hard or soft bed?

Does she prefer to be attended to by men or women? (Seventy-one years old and single, I suggested that perhaps she might request being served by beautiful young men. She quickly went to go call them back.)

How many guests will she be having and how many parking spaces would she need?

I’ve had my fair share of stays at luxury hotels across the globe (on business), and I’ve yet to receive a phone call such as this.

Even the emergency rooms are much different than what I’ve experienced in the U.S. A few months ago, we took Sophia to an emergency care facility for a suddenly, very infected cut on her finger. Much like banks and grocery stores, there was a priority queue for children. They also had a play area with books and crayons. And on top of it all… they were nice. We were in an out within an hour. My last emergency room experience, when I thought my liver was exploding (wasn’t), was five hours from start to finish, the majority of the time spent lying on a bed behind a curtain waiting for something to happen.

And thus far, these medical provisions are covered by insurance. So despite the fact that this third world city has some service glitches, such as privatized post offices that sometimes run out of stamps, so far so good on the bedside manner.

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4 Responses to Hospital Heaven

  1. Ray Adkins says:

    I agree, some Hospitals in Sao Paulo make the Four Seasons feel like Motel 6.
    There is a growing trend of people from the US choosing to go to Sao Paulo for medical treatment, it’s supposed to be better and much more affordable.
    The Hospitals in the city have taken notice and are catering specifically to please American patients and it’s really becoming a significant part of their business, now called Medical Tourism.
    It all started with plastic surgeries and then spread to other specialties including cancer and heart surgeries.

  2. skarrlette says:

    For me personally since I will be moving to Brazil and are very nervous abou the heatlh care system (I have not heard good things) and this was from a Brazilian women. Since I currenlty live in Boston MA, and we are known for having some of the best doctors and hospitals in the world. I don’t care what they do for me as far as the style of room ro the refreshments they serve. My number one priority is knowing that I am getting the best care from teh most educated and knowledgeable and up to date doctors that I can find and I am not sure Brazil is where it at for that.

    But I could be wrong however I am extremely nervous about health care in that country

    • Coming from NYC, where we also have the best doctors and hospitals, I can assure you that you’ll find excellent health care in Brazil and the country has some of the best doctors and surgeons in the world. But here is the difference – the excellent ones don’t work with insurance. In the U.S., you’ll find that the best doctors work with insurance companies. Of course, there are great doctors in the U.S. that don’t work with insurance, but you are most likely to find one of equal caliber that does. In Brazil, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for the best doctors. That’s not to say that your health insurance is not going to reimburse you in part for the care, just overall, it is going to be more expensive. You also often need referrals to get access to the best medical care. If you are moving to a large city like Sao Paulo or Rio, you need to get to know people through some of the international clubs, because unless you already have friends and family in Brazil, members will be a good resource for doctors, dentists, etc.
      Where are you moving to in Brazil? I’m happy to provide you with information, but my experience is limited to Sao Paulo and Rio.

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