Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sick à la Suisse

Parc de la Grange,  ten minutes before impact.

Our new apartment is a stone's throw from Parc de la Grange, an enormous green space in the Eaux Vives quarter of downtown Geneva. As it happens, it is the girls' preferred outdoor play place and invariably brings back memories of our first weeks in Geneva.  Saturday morning Emma, Mouse, Honey and I headed over for a quick play and romp before setting off for the mountains.  The girls were on the giant climbing structure all of ten minutes when Emma took a tumble, bashing her chin against a metal bar. To say her scream was heart-stopping would be an understatement. By the time I reached her, blood was streaming through her fingers and down her neck as she clutched the injured area for dear life. I pried her hands away to reveal a gaping slit just over a centimeter wide on the underside of her chin.  

Our plans had just changed. 

I searched my pockets for something to place over the cut. Nothing. I whipped off my coat, then my shirt, bundling the bright red jersey under her jaw. Luckily--or perhaps not so--there were no close spectators, save Mouse who thought I had lost my mind. Once I had my coat on again we headed back home where I called the hospital.  They said to come right away and thanked me for calling first.  Before leaving the apartment I checked that I had my proof-of-insurance letter, also known as an attestation, a picture book, and some North American pain reliever. (Emma can't handle the bloody awful Swiss stuff and I can't say I blame her.)  Two hours later we were home again with a pair of stitches and instructions to see our family doctor in five days to have them removed.  A bill will come in the mail at the end of the month.  

I have always been impressed by the quality and timeliness of the medical care we've received in Switzerland.  Doctors are punctual and thorough. They never appear rushed. Even emergency rooms have an air of tranquility that simply no longer exists in Canada, if it ever did. Of course, we're insured. If I hadn't been, what then? 

I will be interested to see how the American health care system has evolved since I worked there ten years ago.  When I left, insurance companies were attempting to dictate what was appropriate care. Two physiotherapy visits for this diagnosis;  three for that.  It was insulting and, at times, downright scary. Vigilance was required to ensure you received the appropriate care and not just what the insurance company would pay for. I expect not much has changed.  We'll see.  In any case, it's been a grand experience in Switzerland. 

Bravo la Suisse!

(Photos courtesy of my iPhone.  Not bad, eh?)


  1. Glad to hear Emma is OK. Wish I could say the same of my experience in a Swiss emergency room - ugh.

  2. I was stuck on a strecher after being run over and they went through my handbag looking for a passport and insurance card before they would admit me. The ambulance man was going crazy (didn't help).

  3. When I did my esophagus attack the Swiss were wonderful...better then the Canadian attack where I waited 12 hours although they had established it wasn't a heart attack. I hope you don't have to deal with the American system often, but at least you'll be insured.

  4. Sounds more then a bit scary. I hope she is feeling better now. iPhone very cool (I'm jealous oh boy would i love one of those)

  5. One of our neighbors who eventualy was diagnosed with double pneumonia sat for six hours in a delusional state in our local hospital. His wife (a long time hospital volunteer worker) approached the triage nurse several times in tears but to no avail. When he was finally seen by a doctor in emergency, he was immediately masked and the staff were aghast that he had been sitting that long in the waiting room - go figure. From my recollection, when we lived in Michigan and your Dad had kidney stones he was attended to immediately so with insurance I don't think you have much to worry about in the U.S. - I can't say the same thing about Canada right now. A bridge friend of mine was in an automobile accident recently and broke her ankle so badly that she required surgery. One evening it took until midnight before she was finally helped to bed from the chair she had been assisted to earlier in the evening. She was told that there were many people in more pain than she was. Oh Canada???