Speedy Care

by Karen Zhang

I was swamped the past week dealing with an accident in the family. Thank goodness the episode is over and we have returned to a normal life. But this incident enriched my experience with the first-aid service and health care in America.

The story began on Tuesday when my husband was scheduled to have cataract surgery. At the pre-op room, he was aware that the tightness in his chest had recurred. After notifying the doctors and nurses, we were told the surgery was postponed, and my husband would be sent to the emergency room for an immediate heart checkup. Shortly, a team of four or five uniformed, well-trained paramedics from 911 arrived and drove us to the ER in the hospital, which is about three-minute ride. Outside the surgery center, an ambulance with a fire truck parked behind were standing by.

In that full minute, I thought I was in a reality show. I had never been in an ambulance. Nor had I encountered such a big-cast emergency. Sitting in the front seat of an ambulance, I had various thoughts. But the multi-button control panel around me was more complex than my mind. As the ambulance moved along, my heart beat faster. I was on an urgent mission, I said to myself.

Long story short, after my husband transferred to the emergency room, he was so conscious that he kept correcting the doctors and nurses that he had chest tightness but not chest pain. The cardiologist was able to schedule him to do a procedure in no time. By noon, he underwent an angioplasty after tests found a couple of blood vessels to the heart were blocked. The procedure went smoothly and he had to stay overnight in the hospital for observation.

I was impressed by the efficiency of the medical staff who dealt with my husband’s case. The nurses who helped him to go through that difficult evening were friendly and responsible. They weren’t tired of my outsider questions. I felt relieved. That’s quite different from China in term of hospitalized medical service. The Chinese nurses were often too busy to communicate with the patient’s family. Perhaps there are indeed too many patients and not enough nurses in China. Quantity overwhelms quality. Perhaps hospitals in China should also think about tying hospital payments to patient satisfaction.

I was also impressed by the advanced medical equipment used in the hospital in America. For instance, it was the first time I saw computerized IV injection and digital bleeding stopper. TV remote is connected with the buzzer to the nursing station. The barcode on the patient’s wristband is like a signature that allows nurses to access the patient’s profile. A tiny piece of stent made of metal wire can unblock my husband’s artery. How amazing modern technology is.

Most importantly, I appreciate the great work the medical staff has done. It’s still beyond my belief that my husband is released from the hospital safe and sound in such a short time.

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