EVS Diary

A trip to the hospital

Welcome back everyone to yet another entry in my EVS diary. I actually wanted to write about the Volunteer Award ceremony in the beginning of December (which was great by the way), but then I had to be taken to the hospital and so I thought “Hey, why not share that adventure with maybe-to-be-EVS-volunteers? Maybe they can learn from my experience in the future.” So I guess that’s what I am going to do today.

First of all, everything is alright now, I didn’t have to be hospitalized for a long time and I am completely up-and-going again. So thank you if you had started to be worried, there is no need for that :) .

I was in the hands of the Slovak medical system only for a couple of hours but it already taught me quite a lot. I hope you can take some of my advice if you ever have to go to the hospital here which of course I hope you won’t, but then again you never know, right? So here is a small list of things which you might want to consider:

1. If you don’t have to call the 112 to get immediate help you can also call the 155 and you should be able to reach an English-speaking phone coordinator who can advise you whether you should wait for an ambulance, see a doctor the next day or get to a specific hospital yourself. In my case this worked out great because an ambulance got sent to me which actually had English-speaking staff, and considering my level of Slovak this was a big advantage. But the 112 should work quite similarly I guess, I am glad I didn’t have to try it yet though. (Small hint: The chance to meet English-speaking staff within the hospital should increase if you manage to visit a University’s hospital, but more to that in point 4).

2. If you are an EVS volunteer, call your EVS coordinator. He or she for sure will be glad to help you (also he or she has to help you at any time according to the EVS rules) and can guide you through a Slovak hospital. I didn’t take that step because it was very late in the evening, but it would have probably made the next point less complicated. If you are not an EVS volunteer and don’t have any person in town who is responsible for you, please definitely consider point 5.

3. DON’T FORGET YOUR EUROPEAN HEALTH INSURANCE CARD! It’s the blue one, usually on the back of the one from your home country. If you don’t have that blue card the Slovak medical system will take you as an uninsured patient which will lead to many discussions about your financial situation while you are in pain and also to a lot of paper work with your insurance afterwards. If you are an EVS volunteer reading this you should be insured by Cigna, but their card also doesn’t work everywhere. So if you have one of these nice blue cards from your home country use it in case of a hospital stay.

4. The language barrier will eventually hit you in a Slovak hospital unless you are already fluent in Slovak. I was so lucky that one of the paramedics spoke English and translated everything for me, so I wish you the same luck as well. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without him. One doctor spoke English as well, but you can’t really expect an English-speaking doctor to be there at any time. So I just hope you will be blessed with a doctor who is able to understand you. But since you now know this you could probably ask someone whom you know who speaks Slovak as well as English or your native language to come with you and translate for you. Which leads me to my next point:

5. Take someone you know along with you. I was so thankful that I had two friends with me who took care of my things, walked with me to the different departments and got us a cab in the end. I don’t know how tough you will be once you are sick in a foreign country, but personally I was very scared and emotionally drained. It was a great blessing to have two friends with me who had my back.

6. After your stay in the hospital you will probably have to get medication at a pharmacy. Depending on the time of the day you won’t find a lot of open pharmacies. In fact it turned out that the only open pharmacy in Bratislava at 2 a.m. is the one by the University hospital in Ružinovská 10, 821 01 Ružinov. But the emergency department in the hospital you went to should be able to tell you that as well.

That is basically everything I learned through my trip to a Slovak hospital. Again, I very much hope you won’t have to experience any illness during your EVS, but if you do I hope you were able to take some help from me. Now it’s only left to me to wish you all a very happy Christmas time and a wonderful new year. And you can find me back here again in the New Year. Until then, take care!

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