Healthcare Abroad – Israel

While in Israel in 1989, I was struck by a car and suffered two fractured vertebrae.  I was told I came very close to becoming paralyzed.  The story of the medical care I received in Israel should serve as a warning to other expats there, and perhaps in other areas with similar nationalized healthcare systems.

Disclaimers: It has been 16 years.  Progress will have been made.  I welcome any comments to update this post.  Also, Israel has excellent medical facilties and renowned physicians.  I didn’t meet them.  There are private hospitals, like the Hadassah hospitals, that are reputedly world-class.  And then there are the Histadrut hospitals, that are downright scary.  That’s where I was.

An ambulance took me to the nearest hospital.  It was one of a chain of Histadrut (national labor organization) hospitals that serve the working class.  I was left on a gurney in the hall awaiting x-rays.  My wife showed up, and together we waited a couple of hours.  Eventually, I told an orderly that I needed to use the restroom.  He pointed to it and said, “There it is.”  Surprised at his lack of concern, I nonetheless got off the gurney, stood up, and promptly fainted.  That got some quick attention, and the x-rays showed the fractures.

I was then moved to the hallway of an upper floor, but not yet into a room, where I spent a couple more hours.  Finally, I was moved into a multiple-patient ward room.  The hospital provided no meals and little attention, so my wife left to get me something to eat.  I must confess I was well medicated and don’t recall feeling pain.  But throughout the night, other patients were shouting in pain and calling for help, which was slow in coming.  There was no convenient way to call the nurses.  It was a horrible night.

The following day, with my wife’s help, and with a good friend distracting the staff, I was liberated from the hospital and taken home.  We later informed the hospital that I had left.

I welcome your stories.

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