Conversations and encounters in a hospital

It is almost 7.00 pm when I enter the hospital. Appa (father) is in hospital once again (the third time in as many months) and I am hurrying to relieve my eldest brother who has done the “day shift”; I will be doing the “night shift”. The huge lobby is packed with people and the place actually looks and sounds like a railway station sans luggage. There is a group of about 30-40 people waiting to meet a patient and from their looks and body language, I presume that this is a happy occassion—probably the birth of a baby. The  harassed security guards are having a tough time turning away the rush of visitors as visiting hours are long over.

One of the security guards, who by now recognises me from my numerous visits to the hospital, mutters to me in an exasperated undertone, “Visitors!” I smile sympathetically at him, while recalling a conversation I had many years ago about hospitals and visitors.

“Madam, I want to leave early today.”

I look up from my work to see my department peon, Purushottam, standing at my desk.

“I have to go to the hospital, madam, ” he continues.

“Is everything all right?” I ask.

“I am fine. My cousin’s father-in-law’s sister’s husband has been admitted to the hospital and I have to go there.”

“Purushottam, the patient is not even related to you. Why do you want to go to the hospital? If it is that important, you could visit him once he has been discharged.”

Purushottam is shocked. “It doesn’t matter that the patient is not a close relative. He is from our biradari (clan), and everybody from our biradari will visit the hospital. If I don’t go, it will not be taken well. And anyway, I will also visit him after he is discharged.”

I change my tactic. “Won’t the patient need rest? He is hospitalised, after all, and with your entire biradari visiting, he’ll end up getting tired.”

“Oh I may not actually see him per se; I don’t even need to. I will meet his son or wife and give my best wishes for a speedy recovery. What is important is to show solidarity and support at this time.”

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Hospitalisation, health insurance and TPA woes: A first-hand experience

A couple of months back, my Appa (father) was unwell enough to require hospitalisation. It was a very stressful period for all us, but the stress factor came not so much from his illness or hospitalisation or treatment or care and recovery, but from an unexpected source—his health insurance’s Third Party Administrator (TPA), who created delays and blocks at every step, making the actual hospital stay seem almost like a vacation in comparison.

Both my parents are covered in the health insurance plan offered by the organisation I work in, and this was the first time I was availing of medical insurance, which is administered by a well-known TPA. The insurance plan I am covered under offers a “cashless” hospitalisation facility in most of the well-known hospitals in Mumbai. A reason to feel relaxed about and not have palpitations. Right? Wrong !

Appa had been having fever, which showed no signs of abating in spite of medication and care at home, as well as his doctor’s supervision. After a week of battling with the fever, his doctor advised hospitalisation for investigations and focussed treatment at a well-known hospital, close to our house. Once this decision was taken, my brothers and I got into action—while they would get him ready for the hospitalisation, I would get the insurance and TPA formalities sorted out.

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