Margaret got injured this weekend, bringing us our first real experience with Israeli health care. I’m amazed it took this wild child until late March to get hurt, and equally surprised at the setting. In a city of perils (broken glass everywhere, playground equipment that has seen better days, motorcycles that drive on sidewalks…) she got injured at one of the most serene and spotless places in Jerusalem: the elevator of the Israel Museum. She crouched down and came up sobbing, a chunk of her finger having been cut off mysteriously by the gleaming silver bar near the floor of the elevator.
Israelis are calm and kind in a crisis and don’t seem perturbed by chaos. As Margaret screamed and gushed blood all over the gallery floor, we had a volunteer, a couple of security guards and an EMT huddled around us. Within a few minutes, Margaret got stabilized, I signed off on some papers (promising not to sue?) and were were bundled into a cab with strict instructions not to pay more than 20 NIS for the ride.
The emergency room was a little grotty with cigarette butts and dirt all over the stairwell and windows open to whatever contaminants emanate from the Central Bus Station nearby. On the other hand, we were seen immediately and competently by English-speaking staff who said the magic words — no stitches — and wrapped her up tight. The grand total for this treatment, before insurance and said with some apology, was $113. Apparently in East Jerusalem it would have been about a third as much.
So, if you don’t care a lot about cosmetics and bedside manner, Israeli health care delivers, even on Shabbat. And along with white wine and avocados, it’s on the short list of things that are actually cheaper here than in the U.S. Margaret is having fun brandishing her bandages and telling everyone how the museum bit her finger.