Profiling one of our patient Mrs Maudline Sherber
A fall down a hill in Palo Duro Canyon on the last day of her vacation began a journey for a Fairfield woman that would take her and her husband through almost a year of doctor visits and Internet research, and would end in a hospital in India where they became part of a trend called “medical tourism.”
Sam and Maudine Sherber of Fairfield took a month-long vacation last year, spent mostly in Colorado. On their way home, they decided to stop in Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle, a place the Sherbers had never visited.
They climbed high atop a mountain, stopped for Sherber to take a picture of his wife, and as they began to climb back down, Mrs. Sherber slipped and fell. It wasn’t a long fall, but it was enough to do quite a bit of damage to Mrs. Sherber’s leg and knee.
“It took seven men to rescue me,” she says. “They carried me to a hospital in Amarillo where they drugged me up so I could make the 10 hour car trip home.”
The next morning, Mrs.Sherber had surgery at a Waco hospitalin Texas. After the surgery, where they inserted a number of pins in her knee, the doctor warned the Sherbers that the patient would need a total knee replacement “sooner, rather later.”
The couple opted to hold off on the knee replacement for the same reason many say they put off medical care- they have no medical insurance, and costs would be prohibitive.
Mrs. Sherber says the Texas Hospital estimated the surgery, with one night’s stay in the hospital, at $40,000 to $50,000.
“After the costs of the rescue and the first surgery, we didn’t know what we were going to do,” Mrs.Sherber says.
Recalling a report they had seen on a television news show, the couple began researching “medical tourism” on the Internet. They contacted several sites and began receiving information on hospitals in several countries.
An alternative to typical medical care, hospitals provide health care at a much reduced rate, and make the stay in that country enjoyable as well, called medical tourism. “They concentrate on two things,” Sherber says. “Providing exceptionally good health care at an extremely modest price and making a holiday of it.”
Mrs. Sherber’s surgery- which didn’t require total knee replacement- was done in May of this year at Wockhardt Hospital in Mumbai, India, previously known as Bombay.
Estimated to cost some $40,000 at a hospital in Waco, Texas the entire trip to India, including a 24- night stay at the hospital for Mrs. Sherber and her husband, meals, laundry, sightseeing and even airline tickets, cost the couple less than $10,000 total.
And, Mrs.Sherber says, “it was the experience of all experiences.” From the start, Sherber says, he investigated credentials, and found that the doctor who would be treating his wife had been educated in England.
“They were all very well qualified.” Before they left the U.S., the Sherbers had received phone calls from several of the medical professionals who answered all of their questions. “Sam and I prayed about it and a lot of others prayed for us as well, and we decided to make the trip,”Mrs. Sherber says.
At the airport in India, the Sherbers were met by a hospital representative who stayed with them until they were registered and comfortable in their room. The nurses, called “sisters”. All spoke good English and treated Mrs.Sherber “like a queen,”she says.
Her physician, Dr.Malhan, examined Mrs.Sherber and ordered an “executive exam,” a complete physical, to get the full picture of her health status. The surgery was a success.
While she was recovering, when she could get out, someone from the hospital took the couple sightseeing, at no extra charge, and they saw the Gateway to India, the Prince of Wales Museum and one of the many temples.
They also visited some of the area’s markets and shopped at a mall, where Sherber bought his wife two Saris, which are the brightly colored silk wrappers Indian women fashion into a dress.
Traffic in India was a bit chaotic, but the hospital provided Sherbers a good car with a English speaking driver to take them around. They enjoyed their rides in a rickshaw, a 3 wheel contraption that weaves in and out of traffic. “It was like a bumper car,” Mrs.Sherber points out.
While his wife recovered, Sherber also “enjoyed” some health care: Three root canals, four fillings, five caps and a partial bridge, all costing some $1,400. After that, the dentist and her husband took the Sherbers out to dinner. Mrs. Sherber says she shares her experience with people who now contact her on the Internet looking for information about medical tourism.
“I am telling you it was such a delightful experience, I would go again in a heart- beat,” she says. “And I hope this is an eye-opener for those who need medical care but cannot afford it.” Mrs. Sherber says this is a great alternative for people who have little or no medical insurance.
“I think it’s sad that we are one of the richest countries in the world, but our residents have to fly for 23 hours to get affordable health care,”she notes.
Now, Mrs. Sherber is feeling much better. She gets around well, and still hears from her doctor in India. “I feel blessed that we were given the opportunity to do this,” she says. “And I recommend it to anyone.”