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So having recently returned to my room from my outing to the doctor’s office, I figured I might give an account of my experience there, because it is definitely different than receiving medical attention in the US.

I got onto the 19 bus with a street name and address (Diskin #9), the fact that my appointment was at 5:15 with a Dr. Miller, and the knowledge that the 19 was the correct bus to be on. Seems like a pretty good start, but then the bus driver didn’t recognize the name of the street, and neither did the English-speaking gentleman across from me, nor the other people around us whom he queried in Hebrew. This was beginning to look problematic, as one might imagine. Then, as I was attempting to figure out approximately which bus stop might possibly get me close to where I thought the medical center was, the English-speaking man came up to the front and shared with me the best efforts of the passengers around him: “get off at this next stop, turn left and go all the way down, and it should be one of the buildings ahead of you.” Relieved, I thanked both him and the bus driver, and made good my escape.

Wandering down the prescribed street, I saw a couple of firsts: the first Chinese restaurant in Israel I’d seen, the first American real estate building (or Israeli subsidiary of Century mortgages), and the only time I have ever seen a restaurant named… “Restaurant.” I get to the end of that small street, and I am in fact on Diskin; there was much rejoicing. Then, I notice that there are ~17 identical buildings in a row, and the rejoicing is muted to a dull roar. I wander over to the nearest, and find it to be 9A. The next building over is 11, so for a moment I considered defeat, but then I look more closely at the ramp down to the lower level parking garage.

To my luck, Israeli security habits worked in my favor this time. The gentleman sitting outside a well-lit door with a small desk in front of him and bearing the bored facial expression of guards everywhere was a dead give-away that the door he was in front of was no mere maintenance entrance – no, this was in fact a consumer entrance, and possibly “Building” 9 (even though it was underground). I went over, and found out that I had come to the right place: the Jerusalem Medical Center… bunker?? The doctor’s offices were on the “3rd floor,” which actually meant that they were 5 stories underground. An odd setup, to be sure.

I get into the large offices, speak to the correct secretaries, and the doctor comes out to greet me in literally 4 minutes or less. This is a system of universal healthcare, mind you, and my first experience with it seems to derail many sentiments in the US that universal healthcare would only serve to lengthen lines and increase waiting time.

In any event, Dr. Miller turned out to be a kindly old Jewish doctor who asked me what was wrong and why, while simultaneously maintaining a conversation asking where I was from and where I go to school. He mentioned that his son just came back from a semester at Georgetown, and then hit me with a very uncommon sentiment from anyone in polite conversation: he thought that Washington DC would actually look much better in ruins. I was somewhat surprised by this, and asked him to elaborate. He explained that his favorite place he had ever been in the entire world had been Rome, and that DC has the right mix of landscape and monuments/Romanesque structures to look good as a ruined city. I have never heard anyone mention an opinion like this before, but I have to agree in some sense – there are certainly enough monuments and buildings in DC that might in fact look neat as overgrown ruins in the future. We finished up, and to my dismay, I apparently have a flu of some sort with an underlying, secondary bacterial infection. This may explain the head cold, uneasy stomach, feverishness, and lightheaded sensations for most of this past week.

And, of course, since I am not entirely 100% attuned to the way of life here yet, so even after giving my Israeli health insurance number over the phone AND showing them the card at the front desk, I still managed to earnestly ask Dr. Miller “hopefully they take credit card downstairs in the pharmacy?” To this he responded with a statement that wasn’t rude, but certainly made his opinion known: “oh, that’s covered by your health insurance. That’s how we do things in civilized countries.”

Dr. Miller 1
American Health Care System: 0

In any event, I went downstairs, and waited in line for my free medicine. One of the ladies working the desk was speaking in Hebrew with her compatriots, and I was uncertain about our impending inability to communicate. I was then utterly taken aback: not because she clearly knew I wasn’t Israeli, but the fact that she asked me for the prescription in my hand in British-accented English. I asked, and she had come over at age 10 when her parents made Aliah. Still, it is somewhat amazing that she manages to speak completely unaccented Hebrew, and yet retain her British accent.

The trip home was uneventful, and I now have a better sense of another facet of Israeli society. Hopefully the medicine they gave me kicks in by Saturday, because I plan on spending a good 6 hours of my 21st birthday in Bethlehem with some friends (my previously intended trip there did not work out). Should make for some good stories.

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2 Comments

  1. Now you know what Universal healthcare is like and you can no longer argue against it! AHAHAHAAAAAA! Liberals +rest of world:1 Republicans:0

  2. Favorite Parts:
    -DC would look better in ruins
    -“That’s how we do things in civilized countries”

    That doctor sounds like quite a character!

    BUT, where are the 21st birthday/Bethlehem stories??


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