Ganges clinic. The good and not so good.

In my book, as local country hospitals go, the Clinique in Ganges scores highly. It really has some very good doctors and anaesthetists.

I still remember with affection and respect M. Trouillas, the orthopaedic surgeon who did my right hip replacement back in 2001 (no problems since). Even though I now go to a surgeon in Montpellier, I know that Trouillas’ two successors have an equally high reputation.  Other experiences since the hip – some trips to Urgences and of course the preliminary biopsy op leading to the detailed confirmation and analysis of cancer – have also left me impressed. And relieved that there is an acceptable range of expertise out here in our rural backwater.

My latest experience was on Thursday. I had been given a prescription for a sleep apnea test by the neurologist treating my sciatic nerve problem. I was irritated, as I was convinced I did not have apnea and was sure my insomnia was caused by my back. Still, I had to jump through the hoop to please the neurologist and in March went to see the pneumonologue in Ganges. So here I was, two months later, installed in my room (phew, no neighbours), having a bunch of electrodes and machines attached to me by a technician, who explained they would operate from 9pm till the morning. (Shall I post the most unflattering self portrait ever?  On reflection, perhaps not….)

After a wretched night and a scan in the morning, the pneumologue confirmed what I knew already: no apnea.  But he replied to my questions with courtesy and authority and I would have been happy to stick with Ganges had I indeed had apnea.

So why not ten out of ten?

I may have had a single room – a luxury unheard of in my NHS experiences – but of questionable quality. Its bed and trimmings like the bed raisers had seen better days and the broken bin in the bathroom – not emptied after the previous patient –  was particularly unappetising. I asked for another cover as I was cold, and was told they had run out. I was at the end of the corridor and by the time the breakfast trolley arrived they had run out of coffee and had no more knives for spreading butter on my roll.

After breakfast I went to the radiology department – which I know only too well – for my scan. Again, I find it amazing that a country hospital can have what appears to be an impressive range of kit. Apart from MRIs you seem to be able to get pretty well any X-ray or scan doctors ask for. I am used to the offhand desk staff, but after waiting nearly 90 minutes I asked someone why my scan was taking so long to come through. Answer, it was sitting in its envelope in a stack behind the secretaries’ desks with an apparently random method of selecting which patient to call next.

Finally, since this overnight stay I cannot find my carte vitale (the passport to all medical services and medicines – indeed, the vital carte vitale). To be fair to the clinic I may still find it tucked into the passenger seat of the car, but I have a horrible suspicion it is still in Ganges . I handed it to reception on arrival, returned to reception before leaving. This is usually when one settles up (I had nothing to pay as the ‘hotel’ element was covered by my insurance) and the carte vitale is handed over along with scans and reports. I don’t remember getting my carte vitale back and my three phone calls to reception have not been answered . I will phone again on Monday and meanwhile try not to panic!

Well, for these reasons – none, I agree, of major concern given my confidence in the clinic’s medical services and appreciation of all the French health system does for me.  But still…

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