When is a hospital not a hospital?

When it’s a medical center. Even if it calls itself a hospital.

I left work early yesterday because I was feeling very poorly: dizzy, lightheaded, disoriented, and feeling in my head as if I was riding a roller coaster. I told my boss I had to leave and he told me to go to the nearest hospital. He even offered to put me in a taxi and pay for me to get there, but I said I could probably make it on my own. Anyway, I called Tobias (Swedish boyfriend) and he said he’d meet me at Capio Lundby Hospital, since it was the nearest one. At least I thought it was.

When we got there the staff seemed confused as to why we were there, since this was apparently not a hospital but a local clinic or medical center (vårdcentral in Swedish), despite the fact that the sign on the outside clearly reads, “Hospital.”

“So, uh… why did you come here?” the receptionist asked.

“I need to see a doctor right away and this is nearest hospital to where I live.” I said.

“Oh,” she said, “Well, that’s an easy mistake to make. It says hospital on the building but it’s not really a hospital. We don’t take emergency patients. For that you need to go to one of the emergency hospitals.”

She agreed that it was a stupid rule but that rules are rules.

At this point, I began to get really upset, since I was feeling genuinely awful and no one seemed willing to help me. They then took me into a room and let me sit down while a very kind and sympathetic nurse talked to me and calmed me down. She looked up the number of my neurologist and had Tobias call his office. He didn’t speak to the doctor but after giving an explanation of my symptoms to one of the nurses there, it was I suggested I go to the emergency room ASAP.

The problem was that the nearest emergency room was across town, and it would take us an hour to get there on public transport. So, the hospital/medical center arranged for a taxi to take us there at their expense. They did seem sincerely sorry that they couldn’t treat me and were being as helpful as they could. The taxi ride took about fifteen minutes.

Eventually I was admitted to triage and was seen to by a whole team of nurses and doctors. They did an EKG test, took lots of blood and urine, asked me a bunch of questions, and fixed me right up. It was nice that I didn’t have to wait very long either. It was the shortest emergency room visit I ever experienced. In and out in about two hours time.

So, to make a long story short, if you ever find yourself in Sweden and need to go to the emergency room, make sure that the hospital you go to really is a proper emergency hospital. Not all of them are. I found out the hard way.