I went to the hospital in Chiang Mai last week because I’ve had an ongoing problem with my eye. I’ve had a stye for ages and I’ve been saying to myself for months that I had to get it properly sorted out. I was also well aware that as the stye still hadn’t gone away (despite using warm compresses) then there was a good chance that it would have to be cut out as it was starting to affect my vision. All the Thai people at my apartment in Chiang Mai kept telling me I should go to the Ram hospital. The Chiang Mai Ram Hospital is one of the main hospitals in Chiang Mai and has an excellent reputation with both locals and expats.
The thought of having a sharp instrument inserted anywhere near my eye was filling me with dread. I read up about having a stye removed and discovered it was supposed to be a minor procedure with very little pain. So I finally plucked up the courage to get myself off to the hospital and what an experience it turned out to be.
I arrive in the main foyer which immediately strikes me as being more like a hotel than a hospital. At the main information desk the English-speaking Thai staff ask me to complete a registration form and provide a copy of my passport. They also ask if I have insurance (I do, but I didn’t have the policy with me). They then ask me what the problem is and I explain about my eye. I’m immediately shown to the ENT department. The nurse there takes my blood pressure and temperature and checks my height and weight and asks if I’m allergic to anything. I’m asked to take a seat and within ten minutes another nurse comes over with a small laminated registration card with my name on that I can present if I have to go back to the hospital at any time in the future. At the same time she tells me there are five people waiting to be seen ahead of me (who are sat near me watching the soap opera on the TV!) and that it would probably be around 45 minutes before the doctor could see me. No problem, I said, and thanked her for letting me know. Sure enough, just over 40 minutes later another nurse appears and calls me into the doctor’s office. She checks my vision using an eye chart and tests my eye pressure with a small device that blows air into the eye. Then the doctor has a quick chat and has a look at the eye. “Ah yes, you have an infection . . . we will cut out the infection.”
It’s what I expected him to say, but my stomach started doing butterflies all the same. I’m just waiting for him to confirm if I need to book an appointment when the nurse leads me to the couch and explains they will use local anaesthetic in the form of eye-drops and as soon as they take effect, the doctor will cut out the stye. To make an already long story a little bit shorter, within 10 minutes it was all over and despite the fact I was in a cold sweat, it didn’t hurt at all. As the doctor cut out the stye, he said “yai mak” (very big) and took great delight in showing me it once my eye was dressed and bandaged up. I couldn’t believe I’d got so worried about the prospect of having the stye cut out, and was so relieved when it was all over without any pain. I thanked the doctor and nurse telling them again about my eye phobia. The doctor laughed and said, “No problem, you’re welcome”. He then carefully explained about the eye-drops and antibiotics he was going to prescribe. The nurse then led me to a counter in the foyer where they printed out the prescription. The woman there explained I needed to take the print out to the cashier desk where I would pay and then collect the actual prescription. She then said something which staggered me; “When you have your prescription, come back here and I will arrange a car to take you back home”.
A car to take me home? Talk about service!
“That’s very kind, but I can walk, it’s only 5 minutes’ to my apartment”, I said.
The woman replied that she didn’t want me to have an accident (as one eye was bandaged up) and insisted. Anyway, I’m led to a waiting area and yet another nurse appears and hands me a ticket with a number. A few minutes later my number is called and I pay for, and collect, my prescription. An itemised bill shows the total cost for everything (doctor’s fee, surgery fee and prescription) as 2,294 Baht. Less than the cost of my insurance excess and considering the first-class service I received (including free transport home) it was a bargain.
True to her word, the lady who had insisted I was given transport actually sent me home in a paramedic van. A few hours after getting home I was able to take the dressing off and what a relief it was to finally have my eye back to normal. I just wished I’d not been such a coward and got it sorted out sooner.
So there it is; a long-winded article about a visit to a Thai hospital. I know not all hospitals are the same in Thailand and I’m sure some people have had bad experiences over here. All I can say is that in two visits to two separate hospitals in Thailand, the care, attention and facilities have been outstanding. I’m a supporter of the National Health Service in the UK (my sister is a nurse), but I’m sorry to say that in my experience, Thai health care puts the NHS in the UK to shame. Although I speak some Thai, all of the staff at the Chiang Mai Ram were able to converse in perfect English and were an absolute delight. Hopefully, I won’t need to go to hospital again for a very long time, but I’ll have no trepidation about visiting the Chiang Mai Ram again.
Chiang Mai Ram Hospital
8 Boonreungrit Road (near Kad Suan Kaew shopping centre)
Tel: +44 (0)53 224861
Website: Chiang Mai Ram Hospital