Thunder Snow and Healthcare Abroad

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

After the New Year and with the recent and sudden loss of my father-in-law we set a few goals for 2019. Number one, our health. So settle in and sit down before I give you this play by play. My first experience with Albanian healthcare sent chills down my spine for the wrong reasons. Art had to update one of his immunizations for his visa back in February 2018 and we went to this small shack of a clinic. The scene was not pretty for someone that had spent the last 20 years working in healthcare. The immunizations were kept in ice cream coolers, the were no gloves in sight or hand soap or hand sanitizer, no sharps container for the needles (just threw them in the trash near the door), and the bathroom pretty sure had not been thoroughly cleaned in years (no toilet paper, no toilet seat, and no SOAP). I wanted to bathe my husband in rubbing alcohol upon exiting the clinic. So going in to this years health goal I was a little on edge.

Health Insurance coverage for both of us for a year cost $278. It covers two annual check-ups, emergency coverage (ambulance and visit to ER) and some specialty visits. It is for one specific private hospital but healthcare in Albania is socialized so citizens can go to any public hospital for care. We weren't sure of how to schedule so my husband made a call, the answer blew my mind. It is open Sunday-Saturday 8-6 walk-in, no appointment required. We live two hours north of this hospital, we fasted the night before and left before 8 am. When we arrived we checked in filled out a single form, took copies of our insurance card and ID, and then we waited maybe 10 minutes and were called to do our labs. Quick, clean and painless, next we were escorted to another floor where we both had EKGs, a consult with the cardiologist and complete History and Physical. I was able to go and complete my yearly gyn visit and even received another order for an ultrasound, old softball injury to the left chest. We followed the instructions to the basement and made the appointment for the same day just a few hours later which was great because we were HUNGRY. We left and went to his sister's for lunch and came back received the ultrasound, all good by the way and then we met with another doctor to discuss our lab results. I also received a Dermatology consultation again SAME DAY. We left the hospital with the only bill which was for the Dermatology consultation $20, results and peace of mind. The staff for the most part was able to speak English so my visit was a breeze, the facility was clean and up to current standards. Healthcare abroad not so scary after all.

So January is the coldest and also wettest month to date for me in Albania. We received the first real snow accompanied by loud thunder, yes THUNDER SNOW, I initially thought it was an avalanche. The amount of snow that typically falls in this valley town is a dusting at best but this was an exception, it snowed for three days. We made the most of it via snowball fights with the kids next door, a true and honorable snow queen of the vines and snow angels. After the snow came almost two weeks of rain, our yard was a giant mud pit until mid February.

Other year goals to grow what we eat, spend wisely and when only necessary and explore every nook of this beautiful country.

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