Now, some of you may know that I wrote 2 years ago about my wife and I's experience of having a baby at Starcare hospital. It is still to this day a very regularly read blog post here on MM, and I like to think that the review was of some help to people trying to chose where to have their baby here in Muscat.
A few months ago, my wife and I had our second child, and this time we went to MPH - basically because we didn't like a few things about Starcare before, and because we wanted to try a different hospital. I want to make it very clear right here that we never once mentioned to the hospital that we were reviewing them, or that I'd be writing anything here on this blog - not that this blog is that big or anything but to make it clear that we experienced what we consider to be "normal" service.
This time round we opted to pay as we went - we didn't buy a pre natal package like we did at Starcare, and I think we did a bit better this time - we paid for our doctors appointments, some tests & injections, and some scans. The total cost of the pregnancy (before birth) came in at around 430 rials, which had 2 Anti-D injections, a number of tests, 3 scans, and 12 Dr's visits. The package 2 years ago at Starcare was 400 plus an additional 120 for the Anti-D injections and additional charges for scans that we needed due to complications.
Our doctor this time was Dr Pritima Kaushik, and our experience with her was fabulous - I'd have no problems going to her again if we were to have another child. A serious cause of annoyance at Starcare was that we would have an appointment at say 10am - but rarely ever actually saw our doctor before 11:30 - and quite often it was a lot longer of a wait than that - one time I remember it was 3 or so hours late. Our appointments at MPH were also late - but no where near as bad - I think the worst delay we had was about an hour - but usually our appointments were within half an hour of the appointed time, and quite regularly less than that.
However, one thing that was really great at Starcare, and super annoying at MPH was that your doctor at Starcare will also perform your scans for you, in the same appointment. MPH, you see your doctor, and you also have to make appointments for your ultrasounds separately. Not so bad if you're on your first kid, but when you have a 1.5 year old (she was 2 at the time of the birth), its another set of obstacles you have to do, and another trip to the hospital.
Fortunately for us, this pregnancy was more or less healthy from start to finish (there were complications with the first one which required more visits and scans - and thus increased annoyance at late appointments). Dr Pritima was very supportive of having a VBAC (you'll know what I'm talking about if this matters to you) but ultimately we opted to have a second C section that was scheduled at 38 weeks - 10 days before the due date.
Our doctor told us to come to MPH at 7am on the day of our scheduled C section, but the day before we got a call from MPH telling us not to come until 10am - so we got there at 10am. A mix up in the administration department, because when we got there, the nurses were like where have you been?! Perhaps a blessing in disguise because a little over an hour later Mrs Sythe was being wheeled into the operating theatre to have our baby!
A note on that, the orderly who wheeled her to the operating theatre can only be accurately described as an asshole. He managed to bang her bed into pretty much everything on the way, to the point he even caught her drip which was suspended on a pole above her bed on a door and screwed up the cannula in her hand. Asshole. I mean, how hard is it to push a bed in a straight line, especially when it is part of your job to do that so many times a day?
Mrs Sythe was in the operating theatre preparing to receive her epidural when she started to get very nervous (I think mostly because of the traumatic experience at Starcare 2 years before) and Dr Pritima took control immediately and ordered a general anaesthetic. She sent a nurse out to me to tell me what was going on and so I at least knew what was going on this time.
A few minutes later I was called to the theatre's anti-room where the worlds joint-most cute baby was waiting for me (I'm still biased) - I even got to cut her cord this time - something Starcare didn't allow me to do either (because baby #1 was born under a general as well). For those dad's out there that have cut the cord.... I was surprised at how hard it was to cut!!
Mrs Sythe remained to be stitched up and I went off with my baby to get her cleaned up and into some clothes. The room we had was a standard suite, en-suite shower and toilet, the bed with a fridge and a large comfortable sofa and also a chair with a foot rest. The TV was there but we didn't really watch it much. The room was bigger than the one we had at Starcare, as was the toilet and shower - also bigger.
But I think most importantly about the room for me as a guy, the sofa bed was SO much more comfortable than the horrible grey torture device they called a sofa bed at Starcare (although I understand they've changed them now - thank God).
For the ladies, something to note about the differences between having a C section at Starcare and at MPH. Dr Pritima stitched Mrs Sythe up excellently (she healed a lot quicker this time) but the main difference was that Dr Pritima left a drainage tube at the very edge of the incision site which was connected to a collection bag left on the floor next to the bed. This wasn't done at Starcare (and apparently isn't done very much anywhere we've asked) but had one very very big advantage - the blood inside the ladies has to go somewhere, and instead into a pad, it goes into this bag, meaning it's a lot more comfortable for them in those crucial first few days after having a C section. Yes I know it's gross but there we are.
The midwife, Gilda, who ran the night shift the first night after the birth was excellent, and noticed that Mrs Sythe's cannula was messed up (thanks to the asshole earlier) and fixed it which made things a lot better. The nurses were very supportive of breastfeeding, but were also very helpful to give top-up formula from a cup to keep baby well-fed.
In the following days, a nutritionist and a physiotherapist visited Mrs Sythe to give her some advice and tips on what to do and what not to do - a nice touch we thought. The room-service was fast and attentive, and the food was actually pretty good. All in all, after 3 nights, we went home, and upon dis-charge from the hospital, we were given a pack of information, along with a few freebies (diaper bag, sudocreme, some nappies and a few other bits and pieces) along with an emergency contact number.
A few days after we got home, baby had a small issue with her eyes, and we rang the emergency number, which was promptly answered by a nurse who asked a few questions about the symptoms and then told us what to do, which worked. BIG difference compared to Starcare, where the phone was answered, we were asked if we were in labour and when we said no, they just hung up on us. Yeah, that happened.
The 2 week checkup with Dr Pritima, and the 2 week checkup with Dr Hans (paediatrician) were included in the birth package we purchased for RO 1,400. Now, I'm a bit annoyed about this price because when we first went to see Dr Pritima, I checked out the birth packages for a Scheduled C section and it was RO 1250, and then we invested and were loyal to our doctor and hospital, and our reward was a jacked up price for the C Section.
The service and the experience - for us - was night and day so much better than what we experienced at Starcare. I'm not saying MPH is better than Starcare for having a baby, I'm saying that my wife and I, who are in what must be a very small group of people who have actually had children in both hospitals, definitely prefer MPH.
I hope this helps someone, and if your expecting and picking a hospital here in Muscat to have your child - congratulations and good luck!