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Q: What if you live in Tel Rumeida and you have a heart attack ?

A: You die.

By Shlomo Bloom

I had a pretty bad case of stomach flu for the last few days and was reluctant to even try to go to the doctor because it meant leaving Tel Rumeida on foot, as Palestinians are not allowed to drive cars here. Not even taxis, buses or ambulances. The entrances to the neighborhood are blocked off by checkpoints and roadblocks. Settlers are, of course allowed to drive cars, buses, taxis, ambulances and can leave the neighborhood through settler-only roads that Palestinians are not even allowed to walk on.

I had decided it might be better to just stay in bed than to try to walk out and catch a taxi but then some friends came over and told me they had a car parked at the roadblock outside Tel Rumeida and would take me to the hospital. It was at night so the temperature outside was not so dreadfully hot and I decided it might be a good idea to at least get some fresh air.

As we were walking to the roadblock, about a quarter of a mile away from where I live, I asked my friend “What happens here when someone is really sick and cannot walk to the checkpoint or to one of the roadblocks ?” He told me that they have tried to call for ambulances to come in here but they are not allowed. Last year his uncle had a heart attack. They had to carry him out to the checkpoint where an ambulance was waiting. But by the time he got to the hospital, he was already dead.

So that was the answer to my question.

Some observations about this Palestinian hospital:

At first I was reluctant to go at night because it meant going to the emergency and stomach flu was not an emergency and I didn’t want to get in the way of people who were really sick, but my friend said, no it was ok and not to worry. I was expecting to wait like 4 hours like you do when you go to the emergency at night in the United States. What happened when I got there shocked me.

I literally did not even sit down in the waiting room. I was seen immediately but two nurses and a doctor. They did a blood test and gave me an injection. I was in and out in about 40 minutes (the blood test took half an hour to process).

Total cost for an uninsured foreigner ?


This is of course if you can make it out of the Israeli controlled part of Hebron into the Palestinian controlled part without dying first.

So, Americans.. you go to the emergency with no health insurance, get a blood test and an injection.. I think it would be safe to say that you can count on paying minimum $400 for this. This is democracy ! We can give billions of dollars to Israel and spend God knows what on a war in Iraq but we cannot afford to give all our citizen health insurance.