Last things first or A touch of Kafka in everybody’s lives

Sonati and Badri Baba headed home to my parents’ place in Salem after a hard fought battle with the machine that is Gokulam Hospitals. When we were admitted at “Emergency” on 12-12-12, I had had to pay an advance of Rs. 10,000. On the morning of the 13th, when the doctor said that Badri could be discharged, the system took over.

It took me a while to learn that this “Discharge process” could take hours, so after about half an hour, and  a few unsuccessful attempts at the ICU itself to get some idea, I head to the Cash-man and asked him to give me  a rough estimate of the bill so that I could go to the bank if necessary. He said that I was due a refund, so I (rather blissfully) head back to the ICU and ask the “on-duty-nurse” to please let Badri Baba go, and that I would wait for the Discharge papers. She said that she would ask some one and let me know. But that never happens. She just goes off duty. This rigmarole repeats in some rather fascinating permutations and combinations.

Finally I walk in to the Cash office and head for the “boss-man”. I explain the situation and say that my son is being held hostage in the ICU and could he please do something. He says not to worry he would do it, but I should ask the “on-duty-nurse” to call him. ( Why he could not call her,is just one of the things I never figured out). I go back to the ICU and explain the situation to the (newest) on-duty-nurse. She says that she is sorry but that the procedure is that the bill has to be settled before she can release the patient. (I am reeling by this time, but the show must go on…). I ask her to please call the cash boss-man; and she says that I should ask him to call her. I repeat the word hostage a few times, and finally she calls him; he okays it; and I get Badri Baba dressed in his own clothes and he walks to freedom.

Me, I am left outside the ICU to stew for another three and a half hours on a railway platform, for all practical purposes. That will make another story.


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7 Responses to “Last things first or A touch of Kafka in everybody’s lives”

  1. Swapnal Says:

    Was held hostage during my caesarian ,hate the medical system , threaten them that you will put it in the press, many a times that works

  2. J Motwani Says:

    Firstly, there is no “system” – there are only people. Just as there is no “science”, there are only scientists.

    Make it unpleasant for them, the only way.

  3. A. Mathur Says:


    You have scratched the surface of a much bigger issue here: the pathetic state of the health care system in our country.

    We know that there is a huge drop off in the standards of health care from the cities to the smaller towns, mainly due to lack of proper doctors and funds.

    However, what you encountered, happens even at large hospitals in the cities. The health care profession has become a money making machine, with unnecessary diagnostic testing, in many cases unnecessary operations, and general disregard for the well being of the patient.

    It is just one aspect of the overall culture of greed which has overtaken our country. We won freedom many years ago due to the huge personal sacrifices of many great leaders, only for the “free” nation to be ruled by the culture of greed.

    All is not lost though. There are many good souls out there. Hopefully, a different kind of a change can happen in our country in
    the coming months and years.

  4. Neelima Says:

    Sunder, they did send Badri home safe! Thank goodness for that.
    do post an update saying how things are going.


  5. Ravi Says:

    Hi Madhu (Sundar)! Good to know that Badri is fine now. What you have faced at the Salem Hospital is unfortunate…. i just hope that this situation changes in the near future!!

    Take care.


  6. V. madhavan Says:

    Very sorry to hear a snake bite for Badri baba. and also read ur information about the hospital authority. God is great for us that
    everything went on well. We ( Jaga and Vimmy) always pray to almighty for speedy recovery
    warm regards
    madhu / Vedha

  7. Naresh Says:

    Hi SV,

    Very happy to read that Badri is better. I had a similar experience with the hospital system in Mumbai. I fell sick on a recent trip to India. The Hiranandani hospital wanted to keep me under observation for 2 days as they claimed that the Dengue test takes two days. My Brother-in-law told me it takes 20 minutes and even in small towns, the turnaround time is 2 hours. I checked out as soon as I could and am denying the credit card payment.(Never got the test report that they said they would send me). Let’s see what happens.

    Best wishes to the family,

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