A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Friday, 30 November 2012

Update on broken stuff

Just a quick update on progress with the Admiral's broken wing.

The day after the visit to the hospital, we tried to make an appointment with their recommended Orthopaedist in Clearwater. Here we ran into our first difficulty with the US medical system when you don't live here - even though you have Travel Insurance. They did not recognise our provider, Southern Cross (SCTI) and did not accept "patient responsibility" (ie cash) paying customers. This was despite the fact that the hospital had given us a 73% discount for settling directly rather than via an insurance company. So we rang SCTI in New Zealand who said they would arrange the appointment, but first we had to establish a claim and fill out the paperwork. This involved getting 2 authorities from them to be signed and returned plus the other 15 pages of documents from the hospital, copies of our passports, our itinerary for the trip and evidence, in the form of an invoice from the marina, that we were actually IN the USA. As all Kiwi's know, we have a system in NZ called Accident Compensation, where anyone (including tourists) get free medical in the event of an accident. So we are going to buy expensive travel insurance, pretend to be in the USA and forge hospital receipts etc to get treatment in NZ that would be free anyway!!??!! I don't think so. I guess something must have happened to them sometime to ask for such info, but it beats me.

Just as luck would have it, the WiFi isn't working at this marina, but the kind folks here loaned me a Sprint Aircard to contact SCTI. In continuing the Murphy tradition, our printer decided it would eat paper, rather than print on it and because it is pretty basic, the scanned files from it were too large to email via the Aircard. Accordingly I spent the day traipsing between the boat and marina office (by bike, I might add) to get the necessary documents to SCTI. Overnight, there was no further response, so I asked SCTI if they had received the emails, to which they replied that they hadn't. Bear in mind there is a 16 hour time delay between us and them, so by the time I resent them (and by fax as well) it was 5.20pm when SCTI tried to ring the Orthopaedic clinic, and it had closed for the day.

Carolyn had a bad night that night - her arm swelled and she was in significant pain, so I rang the clinic to make an appointment, pending authorisation from SCTI...only to be told that the doctor was gone and would not be back until Thursday next week. They recommended another clinic nearby and I rang them, explained the situation and requested an appointment. The payment issue arose again (they also did not recognise SCTI, but would accept cash) and during the process of making the appointment asked, after the usual questions like, name, DOB etc, if there was any litigation involved as a result of the accident. When I said "no", she asked; " no lawyers involved, right?" There must be some scary things happen here to make questions like that predominant in making an appointment to see a doctor. She asked if we had the hospital Xrays, and when I said "no" she said we should get them, or they would have to take more - which would cost more. She also asked if we could get there right away. The clinic was 15 miles away, so I said it would take at least an hour. She said "get here as soon as you can".

As we figured it would be easiest/cheapest to retrieve the Xrays from the Hospital, I rang them and they said they would be ready in an hour. Having experienced delays with taxis when we went to the hospital the first time, to get there and to the clinic would be easier in a rental car. So I rang Enterprise, where we get a discount through AGLCA and who pick you up, and was told it would be an hour to be picked up ....see a pattern emerging, here? Enterprise actually turned up in 40 minutes, but by the time I picked up the car, returned to the marina to get Carolyn, retrieved the Xrays (which were ready and waiting), it was almost 2 hours since I spoke to the clinic. But off we went to Clearwater and were within 6 miles of the clinic when they rang to say all the doctors were leaving, and we would have to come back the next day. As we were so close, we said we may as well continue and make a new appointment, and arrived there 10 minutes later.

Sooner or later, there has to be some good news, eh? The first was that when we got there, a really kind doctor agreed to see her. While he was doing that, I filled out the 5 pages of registration forms, which asked a lot of weird, and some totally irrelevant, questions. !5 minutes later, Carolyn came out of the examination room, minus her splint which had been aggravating the pain and worsening the swelling, so she was a whole lot chirpier. He had also confirmed that there was no need for any surgery, or for Carolyn to be "medivaced" out of the USA - which also added to the chirpiness.

We paid the bill, which included a follow up appointment in 2 weeks time and they are going to send us a copy of his taped report - as soon as it comes back from India where it gets typed up (really and truly!!). On the way back to the boat, we treated ourselves to a meal at the Golden Corral (US version of Valentines) to offset our missed lunch on the day of the incident. We emailed SCTI to let them know what transpired (NZ was awake by then) , and they seemed very pleased, particularly when I pointed out the savings to them by paying directly. They even indicated they will pay for the rental car, which I had booked at a special weekend rate. Ironically, the most expensive part of renting for us is buying the insurance, which SCTI specifically exclude form their policies.
We have also paid to stay in the marina until Monday, so we can chill out a bit and decide what to do next, but it looks like we may be able to continue as planned, after all.

Thanks for the good wishes to all that gave them...it's a loverly day today and we will probably go shopping later (Walmart, of course). I have also ordered a battery tester from Amazon that is due today so I can check to see which of Stan's start batteries are dud and replace it/them while we have a vehicle to do it.



  1. Glad to hear Carolyn is on the mend and things are looking up. What a story!

    We are currently in Clearwater, leaving Monday to head toward Fort Myers. Hope we'll see you again!

    Ron and Lynne
    Northern Spirit

  2. Oh my goodness! Am so glad Carolyn doesn't need surgery. And that worse injuries didn't occur as she went over the handlebars-frightful. Hmmmm, your experiences with our Health Care System were sad to say the least. I always wonder how our travel insurance would actually work abroad! When in Canada, the health clinic in Killarney, ONT provided amazing emergency medical care for Bill, with no bill! Safe travels as you continue on. We miss everyone as we readjust to landlocked Indiana! 90 days until we are back on Elissa II!! We are not counting!
    Bonnie and Bill Sweeney