By Ajay Goyal
On her third day of work, the girl left for home, rested on the nearby beach, got on her bike and collapsed. Passers-by called an ambulance and she was taken to the local hospital which, according to reports, is woefully ill equipped and under staffed.
There wasn’t any bleeding and no visible injury. It must have been too much sun, she suggested. This was a typical case for a paracetamol and release. That is exactly what this much-maligned hospital of Polis Chrysochous did not do.
I was overseas and informed at the end of the day in a memo of what had happened to this member of staff at my hotel and was assured all was well.
But a week later and now back on the island, I was informed the girl had not yet returned to work and was in the general hospital in Nicosia. She was foreign, had no family on the island and had come to work for the season to save money for her further education. I took an hour off from business meetings in Nicosia and went to visit the girl in the hospital.
We are all soaking in the news of toxicity in public life in Cyprus There are unending corruption scandals, jailing of politicians, endless unfinished public projects and so much more negative stuff that we have ceased to expect anything normal or good from any service or agency in Cyprus.
Good for me that I do not watch TV. My sense of helplessness and disgust at corruption is such that I do not even bother reading the news anymore.
At Nicosia hospital and without any formalities, paperwork or questions, I was led straight the girl’s ward. I introduced myself, explaining that I was her employer and had come to ask when she would return to work. She launched into a massive smile and informed me she was well and just waiting for the hospital to release her. She said she felt “fine” except for some headaches. She was alone, no friends or family had come to visit her because she did not want to bother anyone and had not informed her family overseas.
After some chit chat and laughter, I left. But moments later I returned to talk to a doctor because I was not assured by her words. If she was so well, why was she still in a hospital a two-hour drive away from Polis Chrysochous and a whole week after the fall?
We were now led straight to a senior doctor who explained she had been diagnosed with a rupture and haemorrhage of a brain aneurysm. Due to an undiagnosed precondition, a blood vessel in her brain burst and caused a haemorrhagic stroke.
For years I have only heard criticism and insults directed toward Polis and Paphos hospitals. None of these have been justified in my opinion because I make it a point to visit every guest or staff member who needs medical attention. I have not seen any evidence to support the tainted reputation of Paphos or Polis hospitals in media reports.
In the case of this girl, the system worked as well as it should have. Despite absence of any visible injury, emergency workers followed a text book procedure. The girl was sent from Polis to Paphos hospital by ambulance within minutes. And Paphos hospital emergency, sensing a problem, arranged an ambulance to send her to Nicosia. Doctors in Nicosia had been informed in advance and immediate attention and treatment was given. Expensive scans and tests carried out. No one asked her for insurance or papers. In a subsequent visit, I brought her documents. But the hospital did not care about formalities and paperwork – they just cared for her and cared well. The girl told me “everyone is just so nice.” She has little clue how professional they are.
If you are wondering — the girl will be fine. She has been given the finest available expertise in Europe and specialists have been called and consulted. Her family and fiancé are now on the island, despite her protests. She will require further surgical interventions which she has decided to do in her own country – though the hospital and doctors arranged all the help that a European citizen is entitled to including consultation with a doctor on the continent.
At present, a friend in Nicosia is taking care of her as he would his daughters. Others have gone to visit just because I told the story in my business meetings. So many have volunteered to call someone to pull some strings – and have been surprised when I told them no strings were needed to be pulled because the system had worked.
This experience and so many others has led me to beg that we should all back off from constant negativity and criticism. This island is more than sunshine. As I see it, it is about its people’s enduring kindness, compassion and humanity. And I believe governance and the system work and we should show more faith and less cynicism.
Ajay Goyal is a hotelier based in Polis Chrysochous