As medical costs continue to skyrocket in the United States, many Americans are traveling overseas to get medical treatment. Thailand is one of the top choices for medical tourism and Paolo Memorial Hospital, a private Bangkok hospital, is one of the most popular places for Americans and Europeans to get medical care.
Last year, after several weeks of strange symptoms, I decided I needed to see a doctor. Then, I suddenly started to have breathing problems and immediately took a taxi to Paolo Memorial Hospital, a private Bangkok hospital recommended by a Thai friend.When I heard the word ‘private’, as I’m used to American prices, the stress of thinking of a high payment was probably making my breathing problems worse. But, from the minute I walked through the door of Paolo Memorial Hospital in northern Bangkok, I was put at ease and was soon feeling a whole lot better.
As I walked through the main doors of the hospital, I saw a reception desk on the left hand side of the lobby. I told the receptionist I needed to see a doctor as I had breathing problems and, without further ado, she was holding me by the arm and taking me to a second desk which, apparently, is where Paolo Memorial Hospital’s English-speaking staff are. And they are lovely.
I was assigned to a lovely Thai man, called Worrawut, who, first of all, because of my breathing problems asked if I had any of several heart attack symptoms. Once I said “No”, he handed me a short admittance form and helped me fill it in. Five minutes later, he was sitting with me in a small waiting area outside a doctor’s office and, five minutes after that, I was in with the doctor being examined. Can you imagine that in a US hospital? From arriving at the emergency room door to being in with a doctor was less than 15 minutes. Door to door.
During my doctor’s visit, I was given a thorough examination, and the doctor instructed the nurse to take a chest x-ray, check my blood pressure, do an EKG and take blood for several tests. Immediately, I was taken into an exam room for the chest x-ray, then Worrawut, (who was still outside waiting for me) took me to a different department to get the EKG and blood tests. After everything was finished, they told me the results of the tests would be ready in an hour. An hour? Rather than the several days it can take in an American hospital.
During my hour’s wait for my test results, Worrawut took me to the hospital’s coffee shop and sat with me while I had coffee. This one-on-one special care is apparently normal for any westerner getting treatment at Paolo Memorial Hospital. As some of the staff don’t speak much English, they make absolutely sure someone who is fluent in English (for me, Worrawut) is with you the entire time you’re at the hospital.An hour later, we picked up my test results and I was shown back into see the doctor again so he could explain them.
With no problems at all and everything coming back completely clear, the doctor thought it may be stress-related. I don’t get stressed, so I said it likely wasn’t, in which case his final diagnosis was an allergy to the heavy pollution currently in Bangkok’s air (which sounded a lot more like it and, by the way, the symptoms cleared up within a few days and never came back).
The best part about my whole experience at Paolo Memorial Hospital though was the price. For two visits with the doctor, an EKG, a chest x-ray and nine different blood tests, the total bill was less than $130. And for Worrawut’s two hours of chaperoning me around the hospital? Nothing. Completely free.
Since my first visit to Paolo Memorial Hospital, I’ve been there twice since for check-ups and, both times, the service has been superb. They specialize in treating foreigners who come to Thailand for medical tourism so, if you’re thinking of doing that, you cannot go wrong with Paolo Memorial Hospital.Paolo Memorial Hospital is on Pahonyothin Road, next to the Saphan Kwai sky train station. They also offer annual check-up packages, including everything you would get at a western hospital and more, for less than $75, plus a whole host of other services.
Photo – Staff at Paolo Memorial Hospital – Worrawut is on the far left