I visited the Apollo Hospital and the Acharya Dental Clinic in Chennai today. Not because I was sick, but rather on a guided tour. As there were many new families this summer, the Consulate orchestrated a tour of the hospital we'd go to in the unwelcome event of an emergency. Oddly enough there were only 5 of us who signed up, which was far fewer than the number of new people here. Their loss...
I was pleasantly surprised at the relative cleanliness, but overwhelmed with the bureaucracy. Lines. Forms. Ques. Yikes. The place was jam packed with people, waiting to see doctors of every specialty. We met with a few of the key players there. We walked around.
They showed us the 1066 call center (equivalent to 911) and introduced us to the team who answers the calls (they receive around 40 - 50 per day). We saw the huge flat screen television detailing where every ambulance is in Chennai... response time is 12 minutes (factoring in traffic of course!) We saw the deluxe accommodations where we'd stay if we were admitted. We went into the emergency room. We had a cup of tea.
Bottom line answer to the question, "Would you feel comfortable being admitted there should the opportunity arise?" Um.... I hope I don't have to find out.
From the hospital, we went directly to the Acharya Dental Clinic. Amidst the squalor and abject poverty, it's one of the most technologically advanced dental practices I've ever seen. We received our tour from Dr. Vijailakshmi Acharya herself, who told us she's started the clinic nine years ago. She works with a large team of dentists who've really found solutions in their practice to combat the lack of Indian infrastructure... Generators to backup the power , water purification systems on the roof, digital everything, and manufacturers of dental equipment who are trying to break into the Indian market, who come there to provide training for their software, furniture, equipment.
The tour of the dental clinic couldn't come at a more perfect time for me as I had made the girls dental appointments for later this afternoon. So after picking up Riley from school, the three of us made our way back over.
The girls started off with having a consultation. The hygienist looked into each of their mouths and counted their teeth. Then we moved from the consultation to the pediatric cleaning room where we had the real fun. The two minute walk was the longest of the girls lives as by the time we made it to the back room they were both howling at the mention of the dentist touching anything in their mouths. Riley finally calmed down when she heard that her teeth were nice and all she needed was a fluoride treatment.... though even that set her off after a few minutes when she decided she really didn't like the taste and she wanted it out of her mouth RIGHT NOW!
Meanwhile Sheridan had to be escorted out of the room during Riley's tantrum as she had started one herself and they hadn't even as much as looked at her. When it was her turn she threw such a fit that it took me holding her down for him to even look in her mouth. After a quick peek, and a lot of rapport building, he determined that she will need a teeth cleaning: her incessant thumb sucking has caused tartar buildup, and even a potential cavity. He also told me that once she turns 4, he recommends we wean her off the thumb (yeah, right) and if needed, put in one of the thumb/tongue habit appliances for 3 months. I know she's not going to give up the thumb very easily, so this ought to be an interesting few months!
We have Sheridan's next appointment in 10 days. Hopefully by then she'll either calm down enough to let the doctor clean and fluoride her teeth, or she'll be so hysterical that she'll pass out when she sees the scary instruments coming towards her mouth. Either way, she's having it done. And I'll bribe her with anything I can. Cause that's the kind of mom I am.