Me and my son were just released today from the Pediatrics Ward in Intermed Hospital from a 5 day stay for his acute pneumonia. I have never experienced a different hospital stay anywhere else in Mongolia so I have nothing to compare it with, but here’s my rundown of everything that happened in case you are ever wondering what it’s like.
First of all even though it was the Pediatrics, the process is more or less the same. So if you’re ever sick, or worried that you’ll be sick when you get here then read on.
Intermed is the first JCI accredited hospital here. With state of the art technology, services and facilities with internationally accredited doctors and highly professional nurses. Well that’s what the brochure and website says. But even so, from my experience in comparison to other hospitals that I’ve been to like in Singapore, it actually is pretty up to standard especially for a country that has huge issues with the medical sector.
Read more about the hospital here. http://www.intermed.mn/
Once you’re admitted you end up between choosing in a 2 person room or 1 person room. 2 person room is 110,000 / day and 1 person room is 220,000 / day this is exclusive of all medical treatments. But you get 24 hour access to the nurses, and have 3 meals a day with 2 snacks in between.
Hospital food is always said to be the worst but for me apart from some foods that had burnt meat, the meals were actually quite edible especially for my son. Although the meal portions are questionable to fill an adult who is obviously taking care of their child. I’m not sure about the general wards and their meals but hopefully portions are bigger.
The restriction on visitors is almost minimal to none. My mother and husband were coming and going anytime between 7am and 10pm. No one asks where you’re going or who you’re visiting and there is no supervision of what the visitors are bringing in. They could be bringing in drugs, alcohol etc., for all anyone cares. Even though there is a small notification in the room asking visitors to not bring certain perishable foods but I don’t think anyone reads those. So your family members or friends can visit you whenever and can even stay with you in one of those foldable tiny beds that is in every ward without any extra cost. At least it was like that in the Pediatrics ward. I slept with my son on the hospital bed, and my husband could sleep next to us in the foldable bed but it was just too damn uncomfortable that I didn’t force him to.
In case bathrooms are your biggest concerns about hospital stays. Sometimes the bathroom situation of a place can be the biggest benefit or the worst experience for someone. Every ward has their own bathroom with showers. This is a huge plus because other hospitals, at least I’ve heard, have to share bathrooms between whole floors and don’t even think about showers. But if you’re in a 2 bed ward obviously you’ll have to share 1 bathroom with that other patient.
Wards are cleaned twice a day, although not very thoroughly at times. But no one’s complaining.
This was our schedule for the day:
- 6:00 antibiotics shot (they install a hypodermic needle and all shots and IVs are administered through there)
- Vital check (pulse, blood pressure, temperature)
- 7:40 – 08:00 breakfast
- 9:00 Doctor routine checkup, they come to your ward
- 9:00 – 10:00 we went to physical therapy (anytime of the day you can go but we went early before a queue formed) Physical therapy for us consisted of Photo therapy to the chest and chest percussion massage to clear the phlegm
- 10:00 Medicine time
- 11:00 small snack (muffin, fruit or juice)
- 12:00 antibiotics shot (ours was every 6 hours)
- Same time continued with 2 different IVs well into his nap
- 12:30 – 13:00 Lunch
- Anytime after lunch we had to drink Probiotic meds
- 15:00 our 1st Nebulizar therapy (you can rent the hospital’s nebulizer or bring your own)
- 15:30-ish Yogurt snack
- 16:00 Medicine time
- 17:00 – 18:00 Dinner time
- 19:00 our 2nd Nebulizer therapy
- 20:00 our bedtime
- 00:00 antibiotics time
Small warning. If you’ve trained your child for bedtimes like anywhere between 19:00 – 21:00 it’s considered extremely early for most Mongolian parents. We’ve been following baby sleep schedules from US and UK baby sites and informational apps so our son sleeps at around 20:00 and that to everyone at the ward even the nurses was very shocking.
The halls of the pediatrics ward don’t quiet down until well into 23:00. Kids running around crying, screaming, parents running after them or their TV would be so loud that we can hear it next door. The windows don’t open but luckily every room has an AC, so we just shut our down closed our bed curtains and cranked up our AC. When the halls quieted down we’d open up our door to let in some air because boy it can get stuffy in that small room.
This was one reason that we had to move to a 1 bed ward because our sleep schedules and sleep environment didn’t click with the other patient’s child. If you don’t mind another toddler screaming and running around while your baby tries to sleep after a terrifying day of needles and doctors, well good for you but I couldn’t do it.
There were a few hiccups along the way. The nurse forgot my son’s midnight antibiotics, good thing I woke up and reminded her. Also there were a couple of misunderstandings about when to change his hypodermic needle, which needs to be replaced every 72 hours. It would’ve been great to get some information about the insurance situation and discounts before we did the checkout process because that took forever. All of a sudden we were asked about information that we didn’t have prepared, so we couldn’t get some of the benefits that we could’ve gotten. As pediatric ward employees some of the nurses didn’t seem to really be in tune with their patients, especially when they are toddlers. They have specific eating and sleeping schedules that need to be maintained as close as possible in order to have well behaved, healing children. I really felt like some medication times and treatments could have been pushed 20 – 30 min here and there but there wasn’t much of a mutual understanding and compromise between nurse and caretakers.
Intermed has had interesting reputation since 2014. While some complain consistently about their experiences, others are happy with the service. Among the complaints there were several issues about how the doctors favored certain procedures that can actually be avoided but because of the fear for patient safety, they recommend these treatments instead. This issue I guess goes further towards the dilemma of doing the right thing versus following the law. Not everything that is within legal bounds is the right decision. So when it comes to a patient’s well-being, should doctors put the patient’s health first? Or the legal obligations set by the law or administration?
There’s often a discussion about the benefits of facilities and services at a private hospital versus the benefits of the doctor’s experience and abilities at a public hospital. In private hospitals there seems to be an air of general reluctance and standards to follow. If you’ve ever been to a public hospital you’ll understand what I’m talking about when I say everyone is sort of straight to the point. Mostly due to the fact that there is not enough doctors and nurses for the number of patients in queue.
Who are we, those that are able to pay for private hospital services, to complain about bathrooms and nap schedules when the majority of the public have no other options but to queue and sleep in hallways just for a meeting with the doctor. And what morales should these understaffed and underpaid doctors follow?
The average salary of a public service doctor is 500,000 – 800,000 MNT ( 188 – 300 USD) a month, more or less. Usually they have to pick up shifts that no one else can. It’s a nationwide issue, that I have no idea when it might get resolved or at least improve. Under table money or extravagant gifts for better service and more attention is so common and expected no one really cares anymore.
What do you think about the Mongolian healthcare system, both private and public?