January 13, 2008

Rife with Grief
Lima, Peru

Simple things are anything but, in this part of the world.

I was really hoping for a smooth exfiltration from the clinic with Tatiana and child today, but knew down in my gut there were going to be issues.

"They don't have any more of the (overpriced) vaccine. They want us to come back. …Why is it so hard for me to get this child a Hepatitis B shot?"

Moments later, Tatiana's father arrived behind me. Both of us were downstairs, trying to get things sorted in the final moments before we left the clinic. I was dealing with the expensive in-house pharmacy, whereas her father needed only get a stamp on a piece of paper saying our bill had been settled.

I heard him mutter something to Tatiana that I couldn't hear, but knew from her reaction that it wasn't good. I gave her a raised eyebrow.

"They want over 600 soles." (US$200+)

"Absolutely not." I said. "They aren't getting a single centavo more from us."

The day after Aidric's birth it took nothing short of me shoving the United States CDC recommended immunization schedule for newborns in the pediatrician's face to convince her to vaccinate Aidric for HepB before we left the clinic. In Peru, this normally not something they like to do until he's in at least his second month, though not something I was particularly interested to negotiation on.

The pediatrician had said the shot would be administrated today, but required that I purchase the US$20 inoculation beforehand. Well, surprise, surprise—not in stock.

I let Tatiana's parents head back downstairs to sort out the mess with the bill while Taitana called her doctor, who did the negotiating a few days prior. I'm generally quite pleased with the quality of Tatiana's delivery, but the post-op recovery for both mother and child has been too stressful. I would recommend the surgeons, but not this private clinic.

I grabbed as much of Tatiana's gear (suitcase, lamp, baby bag, etc.) as I could, took it to the car, and returned to the room.

Tatiana's mother made her way back to the room around the same time I did. "I went down there, gave them the phone number of the doctor, and said 'talk to him, but we're not paying anything'"—nice.

Tatiana's father returned not long after. "They want 97 soles for some tests and medication."

"No." Tatiana and I both replied, in unison.

Tatiana made another call to the doctor as we left the room, put her fingerprint on some birth documents at the floor's nurse's station, and started dealing with the cashier while I waited out on the street. I didn't like being in that place.

She slowly walked out a few minutes later. She said they were trying to work it out, that her doctor had made a deal directly with the director of the clinic, but he wasn't there today.

"Maybe we can just pay and get it back later?", she said… knowing exactly the error as soon as she'd said it.

"Come on, you know perfectly well, as I do, that once money changes hands here we're never getting any of it back. Have the director called, or have the doctor talk with whoever is in charge today."

She walked back inside, and I continued to wait on the street. I could see her parents in the reception area, her mother cradling Aidric.

Tatiana sauntered back outside. "People were on the phone with each other, and we were waiting to get word."

"Round up your parents," I told her, "we're leaving. Either the phone call is going to end well and we leave without having to pay, or it won't, and we're still going to leave without paying. Either way, we're leaving.

"If it's still an issue, we can settle it later. You in the middle of recovering three days after major surgery with one foot out the door isn't how I'm going to play this game. Round 'em up, tell them we're leaving. I've had enough of this bullshit. Let's go."

I was sick and tired of dealing with the staff and penny-pinching policies of the clinic. I hadn't forgotten about the OR scrubs incident from a few days prior; the surly nurses who preferred to keep Aidric away from Tatiana, than with her; the arm-twisting with the pediatrician; the missing, over-priced vaccine; and now, the additional fees for things like Tatiana's pain medication and the thermometer used on Aidric. You pushed me too far, Clinica Virgen del Rosario.

Tatiana walked back inside, and then almost immediately back out with her parents. As they passed the lethargic security guard at the bared gate permitting entry and exit from the grounds, they handed him a slip of paper.

"Everything's fine," Tatiana said, "we don't have to pay anything."

"…but of course we don't." I replied.

Still wanting to get Aidric immunized, I convinced Tatiana to have her father drive the five of us to another clinic, about ten minutes away. We showed up, but it was a Sunday, and the facility was closed.




January 16th, 2008

The Money Quote:

"You pushed me too far, Clinica Virgen del Rosario."

Well played, The Heimburger.

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