Sunday, June 12, 2011

Finian and the French Healthcare System

Finian has been sick since Friday. Today he was really grumpy, he couldn't sleep, and he had a fever all day despite getting paracetamol every 4 hours. He hasn't eaten any solid food since Friday and seems to have a stomach bug. Tomorrow is a holiday in France so our doctor's office is closed. I was worried he had  E. Coli so we brought him to the hospital this evening.

We dropped Fiacra and Ailbhe at our friends' house at around 5pm and continued to the nearby hospital. They don't see kids in that hospital however, so they called a taxi for us to get to the kids' hospital across town. We arrived in the emergency room, gave all our details, saw a nurse in triage, and then went to the waiting room. Within 5 minutes we were called in. We saw a 5th year medical student first and then an intern; they both looked so young (am I getting old?). The intern asked if we would prefer to speak in English. I am all about practising my French, but the emergency room with a sick baby is possibly not the best place, so we gladly accepted. They examined him and said it was just a virus. I said I was worried about E. Coli and Measles, my random sample of illnesses currently in the news, but they said it definitely wasn't either. They took a blood sample to check his red blood cells. The receptionist called a taxi for us. Once we got home, Connell went over to collect the kids. He picked them up before 7pm. At around 7:45, the doctor called us to say the blood work was back and everything was fine.

Our experience (really I should say Finian's experience, since he's the only one who has seen a doctor) of the French healthcare system has been extremely positive. Finian has seen his own doctor quite a few times, for vaccinations and for various illnesses. I got the name of an orthopedic surgeon from his doctor and called and made an appointment to have his feet checked. I got an appointment within 2 weeks.  Finian now needs to see a pediatrician to have his development checked, his doctor gave him a referral and again we got an appointment within 2 weeks.

In contrast, when I was in Ireland a few weeks ago, I read that over 1000 children are waiting for outpatient orthopedic appointments in the west of Ireland. Initially, we had considered having Finian see an orthopedic surgeon in Ireland. I'm so glad we decided to deal with the language issue and use the French system.  It has been great.

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