Spent one week in a hospital in Jakarta, here’s what I learned

Some time ago, I was hospitalized in Jakarta for Typhoid Fever and here’s what I learned:

  • Plan in advance, check insurance and recommended vaccines

Fortunately, I had already made plans for medical emergency (see here) and knew where to go, whom to call to look after the children, what documents to bring, all of which was really helpful but I could have done more. My family and I had not had the vaccines for Typhoid Fever and Japanese Encephalitis when moving to Jakarta having read that it was mostly useful when traveling in rural areas.

Make sure you know your insurance well: save their 24hour hotline numbre, do you have a  direct billing option, if so where? Does your insurance cover for potential evacuation?…

  • Get a second opinion from a trustworthy doctor (back home, or at your Embassy…)

When I started feeling sick, I went to a well-known expat clinic. Instead of doing a full screening, the doctor I saw only checked for dengue (even though typhoid fever and dengue can show similar symptoms and are both common in Jakarta) and sent me home with Panadol. After I was hospitalized, I sent my blood test results that same clinic to get a second opinion, and they gave me a wrong diagnosis… Thankfully, the treatment I received at Medistra was adequate and I was able to double check every step with a foreign doctor, which was really reassuring and the reason why I did not consider going to Singapore.

If you have a long-standing relationship with a doctor back home, make sure you let him/her know you will be moving to Indonesia and ask for an email address, so you can always keep in touch in case of an emergency. If your Embassy has a doctor, take advantage of it in such circumstances.

  • I had a good experience at Medistra

I was arrived at Medistra in the middle of the night, at the emergency room and was taken care of right away. Thankfully, my husband took care of my registration (which took an hour, required a deposit of Rp5,000,000 despite the fact that our insurance offers direct billing  because they couldn’t verify it in the middle of the night) and was quickly taken to a private room.

The facilities were clean, the room was spacious and had a sofa where my husband could sleep, meals were acceptable with a choice between Indonesian and Western menu, and the staff always made sure I was feeling as comfortable as possible. Everyone spoke at least a little English, the doctors spoke reasonably well, even though communication wasn’t always smooth (I was given antibiotics without being informed the first night) but once I realized, I asked for constant updates and sent every piece of information to my other doctor for confirmation. This is just one experience obviously, and although typhoid fever sounds bad, it is VERY common in Jakarta so the medical staff at the hospital knew how to handle it. Should I get seriously sick again, I would probably skip the expat clinic and head directly to Medistra again.

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