Fri, 01 Dec 2000

Bad experience with AEA

My wife and I insist on the best medical treatment for our children, so I agreed when she chose AEA International (a.k.a SOS Medika) on Jl. Arteri Cipete when our youngest daughter was sick the other week. After a nurse had checked our daughter's weight, we were surprised to hear the doctor talking about her weighing nine kilograms. When informed that the child was about 14 kilos the last time we weighed her, the doctor discovered that the nurse had misread the scales. The nurse laughed it off like no one's life was at stake.

We tried to keep our faith in AEA, going there again several days later when our eldest daughter, Tamara, fell ill. Ten minutes after we had been in the doctor's room, he realized that the administrative staff had mistakenly given him the files for our younger daughter, Tiara, who had been there three days earlier. He shook his head in disbelief, probably relieved that malpractice suits are not the norm in Indonesia.

May we add one more peculiarity we experienced at AEA: you are not allowed to see the doctor of your choice. When we register to visit, say, Dr. Harsono, the staff will respond, "Oh, any general practitioner?" We have to repeat our request until they realize that we know he is on duty.

In the waiting room, a nurse will come and say, "You want to see a pediatrician for your child, right? Dr. Harsono still has a lot of patients waiting." When we tell them we can wait a whole hour for the doctor of our choice, they finally give up. What happens is usually the doctor himself will stroll by a few minutes later and calling us in. "But we were told that you still had three patients," we inquire. "Nonsense," he says. "Do you see any other patients waiting?"

A friend once joked that AEA is a clinic for expats' maids and drivers, and we promptly argued that anyone who can pay the bill should be able to get any medical treatment in Indonesia. What we would like to know is, are we getting this kind of treatment because we are Indonesians (and thus treated as maids and chauffeurs)?

But we can pay our bills, and my wife was even a full-paying member once (before she realized that AEA was not so international after all). Do Jakarta's expats put up with this, too? Or do patients' names have to be on some foreign corporation's medical account to get proper attention at AEA?