Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wisnu and the Taman Clinic

Next morning I dashed to see Wisnu, at the expensive Jeruk Clinic. The boy was still being kept in a small side room and still looked too heavily doped.

"Is Abi here? Has Abi been taking Wisnu for walks?" I asked the nurse.

"Abi's not here."

"Has he been taking Wisnu for walks?"

"I'm only here certain times in the day. You'll need to ask Abi?"

"Do you think it's likely he's been taking Wisnu for walks?"

"Ask Abi."

At that moment, the affable and ever charming Dr Joseph arrived to pay a visit to his patients. I explained to the doctor that I wasn't happy with Wisnu being tied up and heavily drugged. I wasn't happy either with the high cost of the clinic.
"Wisnu has these movements of the head. He does need medication," said the doctor, looking concerned.

"Very expensive medicine?" I asked.

"You know there are cheaper medicines in Jakarta, but many of them are fake."


"When you buy cheap antibiotics, be careful," said the doctor, putting on his serious face. "Many drugstores don't have the proper licenses. Sometimes the medicine is bogus and could even kill you."

"Where do the cheap medicines come from?"

"Officials. Crooked hospital staff may sell hospital medicine to sidewalk vendors or drugstores. Then there are factories making fake pills."

"Who'd do that?" I asked. Was I about to learn yet more about the awfulness of the elite?

"Maybe very powerful people. Very high ranking."

"Who can you trust?"

"Government ministers go to Australia or Germany when they get sick," said Dr Joseph, winking. "But you're OK at a good private hospital here." He emphasised the word private.

"What about Wisnu?" I said, feeling that the conversation was getting a little off track "What are we going to do with him?"

"I have another clinic, the Taman Clinic," said Dr Joseph. "I run it with several partners. It's not near here but it's cheaper. Wisnu can move about more there."

It was beginning to sink in that Dr Joseph must be doing quite well financially; he worked at the Dipo Hospital and at Dr Bahari's clinic, and he had a financial interest in two clinics, the Jeruk and the Taman.

"How far away is the Taman Clinic?" I asked.

"Half an hour's journey from the centre of the city. Shall we have a look?"

"Let's go."

The clinic was in a sizeable bungalow with big light rooms which were crammed full of beds and doped young adults, all fairly smartly dressed. Some patients were lying down, some were seated watching a big colour TV, and some were wandering about. Nobody was in a straight-jacket. There was a large garden for recreation. It was better than the Jeruk Clinic and I decided that Wisnu should move in.

"Please don't give Wisnu too much medicine," I said. "He doesn't need to be doped."

"He does need some medication to help control his head movements," said Dr Joseph, smiling sweetly.

"How's his behaviour?"

"He needs an eye kept on him with eating and going to the toilet."

I took Wisnu for a pleasant and peaceful walk in a nearby kampung comprising red-roofed bungalows, a mosque that was big and prosperous, a market garden full of healthy Chinese kale and Bombay shallots, and a football pitch where happy young boys in faded jeans were kicking around a plastic ball; and then I dashed to the Dipo Hospital.