The Only One
Autumn came after spring.
There was a rumor saying that those who could not afford spring tea to get rid of their diseases could purchase autumn tea to curb their addiction to tea, which was to say that those who could not afford high-quality stuff would have to settle down with low-quality stuff, and that was the Wang family’s mentality in the hospital now.
The ICU was considered the noble among all the money gobbling beasts in the hospital. Within one short week, it ate up thousands and thousands of RMB from the Wang family. Even though the expenses at the later stage were obviously reduced, the first week in the ICU had still used up the Wang family’s savings.
For normal working-class people, an expense of 10,000 RMB a day would still make them want to tear their hair out even if they had medical insurance to help them later.
Luckily, the patient’s condition was getting better day by day, and with Zuo Cidian’s advice, Wang Zhong’s family was somewhat able to persevere through the situation.
But they had a very hard time persevering through it.
Zhang Anmin watched Wang Zhong’s eldest son being reduced to eating steamed buns and pickles from initially eating KFC via delivery, but he could not help them. He could only take note when he gave prescriptions.
As a surgeon, he could not guarantee that the surgery was done perfectly, much less guarantee that he could solve the patient’s financial problem.
In fact, Zhang Anmin had not met this kind of patient and family members before. Previously, he performed many surgeries like cholecystectomy, which only cost ten to twenty thousand even if it was completely self-funded, and if the patient was covered by medical insurance, only a few hundred to one thousand. Even if some families were poor, they would not face serious problems.
However, liver cancer surgery was different. The expenses before and after the hepatectomy were multiple times that of cholecystectomy, while its nursing cost and expenses at the later stage were even higher.
Early in the morning, after another surgery, Zhang Anmin habitually visited the patient Wang Zhong in the ICU.
“The patient has been sent back to the general ward.” The nurse in the ICU saw Zhang Anmin and gave him an answer straight away.
Zhang Anmin was stunned, “Why is he sent over now? He should at least stay for two or three more days.”
“The patient strongly requested it, and he also can’t afford to stay in the ICU anymore.” The nurse in the ICU was used to this, and she just said in a completely unsurprised fashion, “If we send him to a special care unit, it will just prolong the course of the disease. We can’t do anything when the patient strongly requests for a change.”
“And he still did this even after Doctor Ling signed a form to waive many of his costs?”
“The cost of the ICU can’t be waived,” the nurse answered and ignored Zhang Anmin.
Zhang Anmin was a little dazed as he went back to the Operating Area.
For doctors in Ling Ran’s treatment group, staying in the Operating Area was more relaxing. After all, when they stayed in the ward area, they needed to record medical cases, look after the patients, answer the questions by family members, go for ward rounds, get prescriptions, and manage junior doctors…
The temperature in the Operating Area was comfortable. It was maintained at a constant, neither cold nor hot, and it made Zhang Anmin felt slightly better.
“What are you thinking about?” Zuo Cidian acted as if he was doing a patrol. When he glanced at Zhang Anmin, he knew there was something off about him.
Zhang Anmin did not find it embarrassing to hold back at all. He said, “It’s about Wang Zhong. Because he lacks money, he has been moved out of the ICU. No matter what, he’s my first liver cancer surgery patient, so I feel really uncomfortable about it…”
In his heart, since Wang Zhong was the first hepatectomy patient that Zhang Anmin operated on after he was promoted to an assistant lecturer, so he was constantly on his mind.
Zuo Cidian did not need to guess Zhang Anmin’s thoughts. He only listened to his explanation and slowly nodded. “Don’t think about these matters, or else, you’ll feel unhappy.”
“I know, right? Sigh, actually, what I’m thinking is that, since Doctor Ling has waived off so many costs for them, they should just take the money and stay for a few days more before they change to a normal ward. Staying a few days more will help to control the infection, and the patient will also suffer less, right?”
“ICU is ranked among the top when it comes to making a patient suffer.” Zuo Cidian stopped for a while before he said again, “You’re being very idealistic by thinking that waiving off some costs can counterbalance the fee of the ICU, but in fact, the money saved still belongs to them, and in the end, they still need to use it pay for the ICU. If we are to count, there are a lot of people whose annual income is just enough for them to stay in the ICU for a few days.”
“Then, according to you, the money that some Africans have earned through their whole lives might not be enough for them to pay for their surgery.” Zhang Anmin refuted, then he thought a while and said, “Do you think we can waive more costs?”
“If you want to waive more, you need to get Department Director Huo’s permission,” Zuo Cidian calmly said, “Department Director Huo is not as easy to deceive like Doctor Ling.”
Unsurprisingly, Zhang Anmin cowered at the thought.
Waiving costs could not be done just by word of mouth. Forget about the large number of documents that needed to be handled, there was a certain limit to the amount of money that could be waived, and there was also a limit to the number of times a patient could have their costs waived. After all, Yun Hua Hospital was a unit where the Finance Department gave them funds based on balanced asset allocation, so the waived costs also meant that the government would need to subsidize the money the patients did not need to pay.
Zhang Anmin was not confident in obtaining permission from Department Director Huo to use this amount of money.
“Alright, forget it. I’d rather fork out my own money than ask Department Director Huo to agree to it.” Zhang Anmin shook his head. By doing so, he was also persuading himself to give up.
“What do you want Department Director Huo to agree with?” Ling Ran walked out from behind them.
Ling Ran was still very responsible for the work in Ling Ran’s treatment group and the Emergency Medical Center.
Zhang Anmin turned around rather stiffly, and he felt slightly anxious while he looked at Zuo Cidian.
He did not know whether he should answer Ling Ran’s question.
“Just tell him.” Zuo Cidian gave a direct hint.
Therefore, Zhang Anmin repeated what he just said.
Zuo Cidian then continued, “My suggestion is not to allow this. We perform hepatectomy every day, and this has always been major surgery. It’s complicated and costs a lot. Honestly, there is not even 1% of people who can pay for this surgery with just one or two months of their income.”
Zhang Anmin was stunned and looked at Zuo Cidian, ‘Didn’t you ask me to tell?’
Zuo Cidian glanced at Zhang Anmin and said directly, “I need to give Doctor Ling the suggestions from both sides as reference. If you don’t tell him the opinions from the other side, he won’t even have the chance for a reference.”
Zhang Anmin became speechless, but he had to be thankful for Zuo Cidian doing this.
Ling Ran thought and said, “Then, we’ll go for ward rounds earlier and take a look at the patient in his room.”
“Are we postponing the surgery?” Yu Yuan asked as she followed behind Ling Ran.
“You’re the chief resident, so you’ll perform as the chief surgeon first.” The subsequent surgery was cholecystectomy, and it was still within Yu Yuan’s skill coverage.
Yu Yuan hesitated for a while before she nodded slowly.
Everyone turned around together, and they headed to the ward area without their team formation ever-changing.
At the special care unit, Wang Zhong laid on the hospital bed with his eyes closed and eyebrows furrowed.
The surgery ended more than a week ago. If he were a young man, he should have started to consider getting discharged from the hospital at the moment. However, for an old man who was already over sixty years old, a hepatectomy had forcefully taken half of his remaining life.
He was not willing to apply painkillers as he was scared he might get addicted, so he bore with the pain until now. His mouth was full of ulcers that he could practically not clench his teeth anymore.
“Do you want to get one more bottle of nutrient fluid or albumin?” The eldest son looked at his father’s pained expression and said in an empathetic expression.
“It’s only nutrient fluid, so it won’t treat my illness. Forget it.”
“You should use the money on the more important stuff.”
Two relatives whispered as well.
The eldest son no longer had much money in his hands, so if he needed to spend money, he had to borrow from others. If the relatives did not support him, he could not be stubborn as well.
At this time, Wang Zhong stretched his shoulders and said, “The surgery has ended, so I can just sleep. All of you should leave now. I don’t need any company.”
Right after he finished his words, he started to cough.
His son immediately advised him against being alone, while his other relatives stood up and left.
Wang Zhong still closed his eyes and said, “Don’t go around running yourself to the ground anymore. I know my own body well. I’m alright, and I’ll be okay in a few days.”
“Let me take a look.” Ling Ran heard Wang Zhong when he walked to the door.
Wang Zhong’s eyes flew open, and he said in surprise and delight, “Doctor Ling?”
“Yes, just lay down and don’t move.” Ling Ran walked forward to perform a physical examination, and Wang Zhong really did not move at all.
“From the report, your body recovered quite well.” Ling Ran stood up. “How do you feel?”
“Quite good.” Wang Zhong smiled.
“So, now, the only obstacle for his recovery is his financial burden?” Ling Ran turned around and asked Zuo Cidian.
Zuo Cidian thought for a while. “Is that so?”
“Yes, it is,” Zhang Anmin immediately answered.
“Then let’s do as you suggested. Write a report to Department Director Huo.” Ling Ran nodded and left without saying much.