Early the next morning The Earl rang to say he had been admitted to the cardiac ward. “They are talking about surgery,” he said.
In South Africa there would be a million forms to fill in, Medical Aid consulted to see how much, if anything, they would cover and the Hospital Admin would want to see the colour of your money before you could cross the threshold of the hospital, dying or not!
She expected the same would be true at San Leonardo but nobody seemed in the least bit concerned about how they were going to pay. So armed with their medical insurance papers and her practiced Italian sentences she set off to settle things at the hospital.
She had hardly slept a wink the night before but the adrenalin gave her energy to cope. Upon arrival at the cardiac ward into which the Earl had been admitted she was confronted by a firmly locked red door. Other visitors prattled at her in Italian and it was clear that neither she nor they would be allowed in so she Whatsap called The Earl. “Tell those Mafia nurses to let me in,”she demanded.
A stern male nurse appeared and told her to return at 6:30 – visiting hours.
“Io besogne palare il medico.” “I need to talk to a doctor,” she pleaded.
Eventually the duty doctor who had limited English appeared. He wouldn’t allow her in either so Lady Helen decided that she’d better just call the emergency number on her insurance forms and give them what information she could. This turned out to be the right thing to do.
“I’m in Italy,”she explained to the amazing consultant at the other end of the line, “Nobody understands a word I’m saying and they won’t let me talk to my husband on the other side of a big red door! And I’m scared I’m going to run out of airtime talking to you.” “Oh dear,” she said “That is very stressful for you. I am so sorry you’re going through this on your holiday. Now you hang up, get as much information as you can and I will ring you back in five minutes. I will need your names, passport numbers, dates of departure from South Africa, Insurance number and the name of the hospital.”
“Yes – I have all that information,” said L.H. “I will wait for you to ring back. Thank you.”
Her Ladyship was greatly relieved and felt so much better after hearing a nice South African voice who spoke perfect English. And just before she rang back the doctor reappeared and allowed her to see The Earl who had managed to get through to him that he and his wife needed to communicate to ensure that the insurance problems were timeously sorted out. He confirmed that surgery would be necessary and that no they would not allow him to fly to South Africa to have it there!
The nice South African consultant rang back and and they were able to furnish her with all the required details – SA doctor’s name, exact date of his stent op two years previously, no the doctors here won’t let him fly home etc. etc.
“Do I need to fill in the form and email it to you?” asked L.H.
“No came the reply – we will now send all these details to Discovery and let you know what they will cover. Just give me three hours and we’ll chat again.”
Lady Helen was allowed to stay and chat to her husband for a few minutes. While she was there a man in a white coat appeared. “My name is Filippo,” he said. “They told me there is an English patient with no Italian here and asked me to come and chat to him.” He was a retired professor and volunteered at the hospital. He was charming and friendly and told the Earl he would visit him every day while he was there. Little did they know then what a guardian angel he would prove to be.