Friday, June 27, 2008
"OK mama," the doctor says to her in English as she pulls away the stethoscope.
On her third trip from
The number of Middle Eastern visitors to
Bumrungrad alone treated 90,000 patients from the Middle East, up nine-fold compared to the year 2000, making them a fast-growing segment in the hospital's lucrative international practice.
"This is a win-win situation," said Tares Krassanairawiwong, an official from the Thai Public Health Ministry. "People [from the
A hip replacement operation, for example, would cost about $35,000 in the
The Thai government has trained 50 of its hospitals to deal with Middle Eastern insurance policies and cultural demands, said Tares. Bumrungrad stands at the forefront of
Borihan Suwandee, a Thai Muslim who attended medical school in Egypt, oversees everything in the hospital that caters specifically for Arab patients - halal meals, Arab coffee, 40 Arabic translators, a resident imam prayer leader, and a large prayer room built last year.
"We have to look after them medically and socially," Borihan said of the Arab patients.
Hemaidi, who has 10 children and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, broke her back in a fall last September. "She went to the private hospital from doctor to doctor until she could not move at all," her daughter Lolwa said.
"They said she was an old woman so it wasn't worth the operation. When we came here the doctors told us something very different. It was her last hope." Hemaidi arrived in
It was the first time she had left her country.
Her operation took four hours and doctors said there was a 70 percent chance of success. Now she can move on her own and even walk short distances.
"There was so much pain I couldn't recognize the people who came to visit. I told the doctor just to cut my back off," Hemaidi said.
"Now I feel like I want to treat every pain here."
Hemaidi has made two follow-up trips and this time decided to have an operation to reduce pressure in her abdomen and says she is also considering knee surgery.
After three visits, the only
"Now if anyone feels pain," Hemaidi's daughter said, "my mum always says you have to go to