replaced the anxiety-ridden days in Pitigliano, but the «holiday» had taken its toll on me who had found myself in the nursing positition for 24 hours a day the two weeks while Geir was ill.
Slowly the world came back on track, and I got a two week sick-leave from my husbands specialist when we came to see him the first week after coming home. The specialist also found out that my former medicationfree AlphaOne finally responded to Atrovent and Ventolin – and sent with us a prescription for the medication plus a requisition for a nebulizer in addition to a two week sick leave for him as well. So far so good.
Norway – land of the bureaucrats?
As I happened to be in Oslo, and Geir still was recovering from his spell in Italy, I volunteered to go to the hospital our lung specialist had told us to go to to pick up the nebulizer (which can be borrowed from the health care system). It turned out they closed as early as 2.30 PM, and as I arrived at 2.35 nobody opened the door. Well, I could have checked that one before going, and Geir still had some left of the Italian medication. So no big deal. This one is on me.
«Is this adress correct?»
Back again the next day at Ullevål University Hospital and the storage unit for medical equipment. The door was now open, but service seemed to be a lacking word in the vocabulary. First one sour lady picked up my requisition, then an important looking man came back and asked sourly, «Is this adress correct?» He meant our homeadress in Koppang, northeast of Oslo.
«Yes, it is», I said, «but my husband has a work adress in Oslo and spends the whole week here.» «Ok», the man said, «but I cannot give out anything from here. You have to go to Elverum to get it.»
«That is the rules,» he continued.
«But Elverum is almost a two hours drive from here???»
» So are the rules», the man said, even more sourly now. «If you have adress Koppang, that is the adress we relate to, and you have to pick up the equipment in Elverum.» He gave me the paper back, and I realized this was no joke. We really had to get the equipment from Elverum, which on top of it all was 90 km from our home in Koppang.
«Who pays the cost for going to Elverum?»
I called Geir who could hardly believe what I said. But it finally dawned upon him as well that Elverum was the place to relate to. He got on the phone to Elverum Hospital the next day, which happened to be a Friday.
«Yes, no problem», they said. «You can come here and pick up the equipment.»
But realizing that he might not be the only weekly commuter in the country – he said: «But before I go I want to know where I can send the bill for lost work hours and travelling costs, since it so happens that I work in Oslo…»
It got quiet in the other end. «Eh, I do not know how that will be,» the person said.
«Well, you see, at my work we have commuters all the way from Alta in the far north to Kristiansand in the south, and I need to know since this might come up as a problem for someone else commuting from faraway. It is a question of principles here, since I am not the only cronicly ill commuter in the country, and I need to know how to help them.»
After a moment of silence in the other end, the person concluded that this needed some research, and my husband would get a phonecall from them on Monday.
Monday came, and he received the call rom Elverum Hospital, who wisely enough had decided they could send the equipment by regular mail. And so they did, and the equipment arrived on Wednesday, which was one full week after we started on the quest.
So far so good. We now had the equipment needed. Why dwell upon the details here?
Bureaucrats are hired to serve the PEOPLE!
This was Max Weber’s original idea behind hiring servants to take care of the people’s needs – servants today known as bureaucrats.
In this case, Hospital Administration and administration routines had first priority – not the patients needs. If saving money for the medical profession means dumping all the problems over to the patient something is seriously wrong.
This patient lived in Oslo during the whole week. He wants desperately to work instead of living on disability pension, but he was still quite sick, and needed his medication to breathe better – which in fact is a necessity to get enough oxygen to the cells of the body. The guy at Ullevål University Hospital had nothing wrong with his breathing. Besides he had not created the rules and should not get the blame here. But since it is a practical possibility to send invoices between hospitals – they do it all the time – why not hand out the equipment needed at the nearest possible place for the patient and leave it to the healthy bureaucrats to find a way of sorting out the money transfers or mail-delivered equipment later? The patient in question should have gotten what he needed right there and then. He was sick and suffered unnecessarily long from not getting it!
One focus – GET AS WELL AS YOU CAN!
Patients should have one focus – to get as well as they can to stay as workers as long as they manage. My husband was lucky, he had me there to run errands. I must admit I am happy he got sick in Italy – because if he had gotten sick here he would have been without proper medication for a whole week! There, in our tiny Italian town of 4000 inhabitants, I could get what I needed within minutes, included the medication of similar sort – without prescription – and I could choose between renting or buying the equipment. Rent was 1 euro a day – buying was 70 euro. We regret we did not buy one to take home from Italy. In Oslo with half a million inhabitants we cannot even buy it from a pharmacy! I tried!
So why whine since it all went well?
Well, I happen to be of the opinion that if you stumble upon a stone in the road that can easily be moved – it is important to try to move it so that the next person with maybe less resources does not have to stumble all over again! And in my frank opinion, it should be a lot easier to move a paper, an invoice or money than to ask a cronicly ill patient to run crosscountry to get what he needs to get well. Especially when it is a mantra in Norway that each and everyone of us are to work as much as possible until we hit the coffin. I think that calls for more flexibility from the bureaucracy than what we just experienced. The stone is not moved yet, but at least more people than us know it is there! And knowing is there is the first step in doing something about it.